Wild Siberian tigers rebound in China; no longer captured by wildlife cameras

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The Siberian Tiger Photo: Courtesy of Tencent

Editor’s note:

China is working towards the goal of the world’s largest network of national parks. Chinese President Xi Jinping reaffirmed China’s ecological conservation during the virtual session of the World Economic Forum 2022 on January 17. At the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, or COP15 held in 2021, China officially designated its first batch of national parks which include Northeastern Tiger and Leopard National Park. China. Chinese experts said it is of great importance to protect the Siberian tiger, known as the northeast tiger in China.

China has stepped up conservation measures, including creating a national park, banning commercial logging and launching campaigns to remove traps set by poachers for the protection of big cats.

Feng Limin, a biologist at Beijing Normal University, told the Global Times that the world currently has around 600 wild Siberian tigers, of which around 90% live in the wilds of Russia and the remaining 10% are found in China.

According to the study published in the journal Biological Conservation in 2021, a total of 55 wild Siberian tigers were spotted in China as researchers conducted a survey.

Protective measures

2022 is the Year of the Tiger in the Chinese lunar calendar. Feng recalled that during the last year of the tiger in 2010, some sedentary female tigresses began to appear in China, and the number of Siberian tigers in China began to increase after the local government established nature reserves since then. 1998.

In 2015, after China announced a no commercial logging policy, at least 27 Siberian tigers and 42 Siberian leopards were spotted in China’s wilderness.

In 2017, the country launched operations on the Northeast China Tiger and Leopard National Park pilot project, stepping up protection work in a vast area of ​​more than 14,000 square kilometers. As animal husbandry and other disruptive human activities continued to decline, the food web was rapidly restored, leading to improved survival rates for Siberian tiger cubs.

In 2021, the Northeast China Tiger and Leopard National Park was added to the first group of national parks. Its integrated monitoring system became the world’s first real-time monitoring system to achieve large-scale biodiversity coverage.

According to Feng, the system has realized that the monitoring and supervision of natural resources in national parks has truly entered the era of big data and artificial intelligence, which has strongly supported the modernization of the national park management system. and capacity building.

“It’s really a chance for China to shine in tiger recovery,” said David Smith, a tiger expert at the University of Minnesota who has visited the park area before, according to Science.

On Tuesday, the National Forestry and Grassland Administration and Tencent jointly launched the first 1.25 billion-pixel VR panoramic photo of the Tiger and Leopard National Park in northeast China. Visitors could enjoy a panoramic “cloud” tour of the park via their phone.

International cooperation

Built in northeast China, Northeast China Tiger and Leopard National Park is bordered by Leopard Land National Park in Primorsky Krai, Russia, the park’s official website says.

Feng said China-Russia cooperation is one of the most important steps contributing to animal protection. “China and Russia have conducted a lot of academic research on wild animals,” he said.

According to Xinhua, the Northeast China Tiger and Leopard National Park Administration and Russia’s Country of Leopards National Park signed a three-year tiger conservation work plan in 2019, which is a milestone. important in cross-border cooperation for both countries.

In June 2019, the two sides signed a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Agreement guaranteeing the two countries’ in-depth cooperation in the protection of endangered animal species, including Siberian tigers and leopards, as well as their natural habitats, and the joint monitoring of species. endangered animals to ensure that those endemic to northeast China can migrate freely across the Sino-Russian border.

China has also carried out cooperation with international organizations, including the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) for the protection of wild animals.

Liu Peiqi, program director of WWF’s Beijing office, told the Global Times that China and WWF have co-launched measures to monitor the population of Siberian tigers and leopards, protection and restoration of the habitat, construction of anti-poaching monitoring and evaluation mechanisms, sustainable development of human-wildlife conflict mitigation as well as increased public awareness through various activities.

According to Liu, WWF and Chinese authorities have successfully executed five Siberian tiger habitat patrols since 2016. About 1,000 patrollers from China and Russia participated in the patrols where they were able to learn new skills related to preservation.

Siberian tiger and other animals in northeast China's Tiger and Leopard National Park Photos: Courtesy of Tencent

Siberian tiger and other animals in northeast China’s Tiger and Leopard National Park Photo: Courtesy of Tencent

A common house

Fan Zhiyong, a professor at Northeast Forestry University who specializes in endangered species, told the Global Times that adequate food and habitat are the two most important factors in protecting big cats.

“We must continue to optimize the establishment of tiger and leopard habitats and improve the biodiversity of the species in the wild. For example, these big cats like to eat large herbivores, including sika deer and red deer, and their food chain should also be highly valued,” he said.

A Siberian tiger expert, who asked to remain anonymous, told the Global Times that in addition to the Siberian tiger, there are three other tiger subspecies in China, including the Bengal tiger, the Indochina and the South China Tiger.

Bengal and Indochinese tigers mainly live in Southeast Asia and other South Asian countries, and the Xizang Autonomous Region in southwest China and the border areas of China. Yunnan province are their marginal distribution areas.

The South China tiger is the only tiger subspecies in China.

Li Xueyou, a researcher from the Kunming Institute of Zoology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told the Global Times that the number of Bengal tigers in China has not been confirmed, but cameras installed in Nyingchi, Xizang have already captured the subspecies.

China has included the Bengal tiger in the issue of wildlife protection. Its now determined habitat has also been included in the Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon National Nature Reserve range to aid in unified management.

The tiger’s main diet within the food web is also protected, and human activity such as collecting around its habitat has been limited. Patrols have also been launched to combat illegal activities.

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