WCS has an impressive track record in Northeast Asia. Our achievements for wildlife research and conservation in the region include:
Howard Quigley with Olga, the first
tiger captured under the Siberian
Tiger Project, in 1992.
In collaboration with the Sikhote-Alin Biosphere Reserve, WCS leads the Siberian Tiger Project, the longest running radio-telemetry-based tiger research and conservation project in the world. Siberian Tiger Project staff captured and radio-collared the first Siberian tigers ever, providing new tools for studying tiger ecology, and acquiring new information necessary for conservation of the sub-species. Improved understanding of Amur tigers ecological requirements gained through the Siberian Tiger Project has guided numerous constructive long-term conservation actions, including: protected area planning and management; establishment of a legal basis for corridors between protected areas; road closures to reduce mortality of tigers and their prey; management of game populations outside protected areas to benefit both humans and tigers; education and outreach to improve local understanding of the role tigers play in the ecosystem; bi-lateral discussions to establish transboundary reserves which will connect tiger populations in the Russian Far East and Northeast China.
WCS has led the development of standardized methodologies for monitoring tigers and their prey. Since the winter of 1997-1998, we have organized annual monitoring throughout Russian tiger habitat, which serves as an early warning system for declines in Amur tiger population numbers. In 1996 and 2005, WCS led coordination of range-wide surveys of the Amur tiger population in Russia, which have allowed us to estimate that 350-400 adult tigers remain and that the population is stable.
WCS has worked side-by-side with Russian governmental agencies since 1999 to develop strategies for resolving tiger-human conflicts in a way that reduces human-caused tiger mortality and ensures the safety of local people living in tiger habitat.
After WCS conducted surveys for tigers and leopards in Russia and NE China and developed a plan for a network of transboundary protected areas and management zones in the region, China created the Hunchun Tiger-Leopard Reserve in the Jilin Province. This reserve provides about 100,000 ha of protected habitat for tigers and leopards contiguous with protected habitat on the Russian side of the border.
We have made a commitment to supporting the next generation of Russian wildlife biologists and conservationists, by integrating graduate students into our research programs, providing them the guidance and support they need, and constructing the Sikhote-Alin Research Center in Terney to provide both student housing and a research facility that lives up to international standards.
Recognizing that the conservation of the Amur tiger is only possible if tigers continue to survive outside of protected areas, we are working with privatized hunting leases with the goal of improving wildlife management on multiple-use lands, and demonstrating that coexistence of large carnivores and people is possible.
We piloted the use of camera-trap monitoring, a survey technique that had never before been used in Russia, to make estimates of Far Eastern leopard and Siberian tiger populations.
Together with local and international partners we are training wildlife health professionals who will be capable of addressing issues of wildlife health and disease, who will be skilled in wildlife immobilization, capture, and handling, and who can become part of the conservation and management community dedicated to wildlife conservation in the Russian Far East.
We have published, in Russian and English, and distributed dozens of scientific and popular articles and reports.