Rare Amur Tiger Sighted In China
By Sarah Chin | Featured Research
June 20, 2012
Photos of a rare Amur tiger, caught on film for the first time in Wangqing Nature Reserve in Northeast China’s Changbai mountains, are giving hope to tiger recovery efforts in the region.
AsianScientist (Jun. 20, 2012) – Photos of a rare Amur tiger, caught on film for the first time in Wangqing Nature Reserve in Northeast China’s Changbai mountains, are giving hope to tiger recovery efforts in the region.
Wild Amur tigers, once widespread in northeast China, have been critically affected by habitat degradation and fragmentation, poaching, and a small prey base.
Estimates put the current wild Amur tiger population in Northeast China, mostly confined to the Changbai Mountains in Jilin Province and Wanda mountains in Heilongjian Province, at between 18-24 individuals. The adjacent forested habitat of the Russian Far East holds more, between 430-500 tigers.
In April, a camera trap set up in the reserve captured two photos of the tiger. This is the first time that a camera trap set up in the reserve has managed to capture photos of the rare species, although footprints of the tiger have been discovered in Wanqing several times since 2008. The photos provide evidence of the extension of the Amur tiger’s range from Hunchun, located close to the Russian border, into the inner Changbai mountain area, part of the Amur-Heilong Tiger Landscape that straddles China and Russia.
Amur tigers migrating to the inner Changbai mountain area must pass through Wangqing, located next to the Hunchun Nature Reserve. Hunchun-Wanqing has accordingly become the highest priority protection area the The Project Plan of the Recovery of Amur Tiger and Tiger Habitat in Changbaishan Area in Jilin, as recommended by WWF-China.
“The photos give hope to the real possibility that tigers could return to their previous habitat if steps are taken to manage it,” said Dr. Zhu Jiang, Head of WWF-China’s Northeast Program Office.
“In recent years, we have had camera traps taking photos of Amur tiger and also Amur leopard in Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces. It shows that the camera trap is a very effective tool in monitoring rare wildlife species. We have to expand its use so as to build an effective monitoring platform.”
The Jilin and Heilongjiang forestry departments, International Feline Research Center of China’s State Forestry Administration and WWF are currently working together to set up automatic infrared cameras to build the monitoring platform to cover core potential Amur tiger habitats in the Changbai and Wanda mountains in Jilin and Heilongjiang Provinces respectively.
At present, WWF-China and its partners are carrying out a number of conservation measures to save the Amur tiger. These include helping ungulate populations such as wild boar and roe deer – the tiger’s main prey – to recover; stopping poaching by helping local authorities carry out anti-poaching activities; and increasing and connecting protected tiger habitats so that tigers can safely move from one area to another.
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