Rare animal species census on the Far East

Foto: Dmitry Mezentsev
Foto: Dmitry Mezentsev

Scientists will study habitation territory of the Siberian tiger and the Amur leopard to estimate current population and determine measures necessary for more effective protection of the rare predators. Simultaneous census of wild cats will be carried out on the territory of 150000 square kilometers. About 2000 specialists (staff of federal and regional specially protected areas, employees of the Directorate for State Hunting Supervisory, biologists etc.) will study about 1500 routes and inspect animals’ footprints.

Such large scale tiger studies are held every 10 years, leopard studies are held every 3 years.

According to census of 2005 Siberian Tiger population on the South Far East estimates 423-502 species, what is 95% of the world population. Amur leopard population inhabiting South West Primorsky Krai according to 2013 census is about 50 species.

“Primarily we are interested in condition of two rare species population. This concern not only number of species – how many tigers there are, 500 or 501, but also food potential, traditional tiger habitation areas, how they changed under the influence of man, - says acting head of Rosprirodnadzor, chair of 2014-2015 Siberian Tiger census working group Amirkhan Amirkhanov. – This is a very difficult work because tiger is not just an animal, it’s a symbol and protecting it means protecting the whole ecosystem”.


Foto: leopard-land.ru
Фото: leopard-land.ru

Siberian Tiger and Amur leopard censuses are organized and held by the Ministry of Natural Resources of Russia, natural reserves and national parks, administration of Primorsky Krai, governments of Khabarovsk Krai, Amursk Oblast and Jewish Autonomous Oblast with the support of Centre “Siberian Tiger”, WWF and Russian Academy of Sciences.

Director of Primorsk branch of Centre “Amur Tiger” Sergei Aramilev underlined the importance of working together with environmental organizations: “Part of non-governmental organizations is to carry out parallel information analysis. This would give us more objective and open data. New data will help us not only to asset the effectiveness of performed work but to determine our future plans as well”. Thus, Centre “Amur tiger” financed preparatory measures necessary for large scale census of predators beyond federal specially protected areas.


Foto: Vasily Solkin
Фото: Василий Солкин

”Main indicator of the census, as before, is measurement of Siberian tiger footprints made by strict methodic. We use satnavs that allow us to tie footprints to location and, of course, there is obligatory photo fixation of footprints”, - says research leader of Siberian Tiger and Amur leopard census, senior research worker of Far-Eastern branch of the RAS Vladimir Aramilev.

At this moment, scientists collect information at 862 sites in Primorsk Krai, South Khabarovsk Krai, Amursk Oblast and Jewish Autonomous Oblast where tigers are documented and 5 animals were released this year. Simultaneous census of rare animals across the distribution area will be held 1-15 February (dates may change due to weather conditions).

Preliminary results of the census will be ready in late May 2015 and final report to be ready by October 2015. Scientists will also have a unique opportunity to compare in dynamics results of Amur leopard censuses in 2013 and 2015.