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WCS Russia

The Russian Far East is home to some of the world’s rarest and unique species, including Amur tigers and leopards, Kamchatka brown bears, and Blakiston’s fish owls. The Wildlife Conservation Society focuses on these key species as a means to achieve biodiversity conservation and protect critical habitats throughout this region. We use science as a foundation for designing and implementing effective conservation plans.  

 

Latest News


See our NEWS ARCHIVE for more information from the fields.

WILL ZOLUSHKA MEET HER PRINCE? February 2014
It has been nine months since the tigress named Zolushka (Cinderella), saved from starvation in the Russian taiga, was returned to the wild by the Wildlife Conservation Society Russia and Russian partners. Now, halfway through her first harsh, Russian winter, Zolushka appears to be not only surviving, but actively courted by the single male tiger roaming her territory.
Read more here
VARVARA’S NEW NEIGHBOR February 2014

The Wildlife Conservation Society’s Russia Program and the Sikhote-Alin Biosphere Zapovednik (SABZ) have jointly surveyed Amur tigers on SABZ territory using camera traps since 2006. On a recent routine camera trap check, it was discovered that one of the resident females, Varvara, has a new neighbor. This previously-unseen female was first photographed in November 2013. The territory she settled was once occupied by Varvara, as two years ago the tiger population in the reserve crashed and Varvara suddenly had an 800 km2 territory all to herself (which is approximately twice the normal home range size for a female Amur tiger). When Varvara gave birth to cubs (in 2012), her movements became more restricted as it likely proved impossible to patrol such a large territory and care for her young at the same time. Her prolonged absence apparently did not pass without notice, and hence the appearance of this new tigress. Read more

AILING AMUR TIGER STILL A MYSTERY February 2014

ailing amur tiger

WCS Russia staff captured an incapacitated Amur tiger in the Amur region of the Russian Far East, but what ails the tiger is still a mystery. Sunday evening WCS staff members Nikolai and Alexander Rybin assisted in immobilizing the cat a second time to obtain x-rays and samples needed to determine whether diseases are affecting the tiger. Although 300-400 tigers live in Khabarovskii and Primorskii Provinces of the Russian Far East, tigers disappeared from the more western Amur Province more than 30 years ago. Yet WCS received the unusual request to assist the Russian government agency Inspection Tiger to track down and capture a wounded tiger reported in the region. WCS has the only specialists in the Russian Far East trained in the capture and immobilization of the big cats. Read more

CONFLICT TIGER NEAR THE VILLAGE OF SUKPAI CAUGHT AND SENT TO UTYOS REHABILITATION CENTER December 2013

caught

In mid-November 2013, the Wildlife Conservation Society’s office in Vladivostok received a request from the Ministry of Natural Resources of Khabarovskii Province to assist in capturing a conflict tiger in the village of Sukpai. This tiger had been preying upon village dogs for weeks, and the locals there were too frightened to go outdoors at night. News of this tigers exploits were a regular feature on the local news in Khabarovskii Krai, raising concerns amongst many local people even beyond Sukpai.

The Rybin brothers, Aleksandr and Nikolai, are WCS’s capture specialists. They have extensive experience in the capture and immobilization of large predators (tigers, leopards, bears, etc.), and have assisted provincial and federal authorities in human-tiger conflict situations for years. They quickly collected the necessary equipment and headed to Khabarovsk. Read more here.

VARVARA’S CUBS FINALLY CAUGHT ON CAMERA IN THE SIKHOTE- ALIN BIOSPHERE RESERVE! December 2013

Varya cub

In early September 2012, cubs were born to Varvara, one of the tigresses living in the Sikhote-Alin Biosphere Reserve (SABR). We knew this because Varvara had been tracked using a GPS collar since October 2011 under a joint monitoring program conducted by SABR and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). Based on her GPS locations, it was clear that Varvara confined her cubs to a small area in a remote corner of the reserve during the first two months following birth. Only when the cubs became stronger and began tasting meat did she begin taking them with her, and leading them to the ungulates she had killed. In early December, after the first snowfall, researchers were able to look at their tracks in the snow and determined that Varvara had three cubs. And every once in a while, male tracks were found near those of Varvara and the cubs. These belonged to Murzik, which meant he was the father. Read more here.

VLADIMIR PUTIN VISITS TIGER REHAB CENTER IN PRIMORYE September 2013

Putin.Rybin.Close

Vladivostok September 25, 2013 — In  late August, the WCS Russia Tiger Conflict Team worked with a variety of partners to translocate two orphaned tiger cubs to a rehabilitation facility. The resulting events included a cameo by Russian President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin himself. Read more here.

EAGLE VERSUS DEER September 2013

GoldenvsSika

NEW YORK (September 23, 2013) A camera trap set out for Amur tigers in the Russian Far East photographed something far more rare: a golden eagle capturing a young sika deer.

The three images only cover a two-second period, but show an adult golden eagle clinging to the deer’s back. Its carcass was found two weeks later, just a few yards from the camera, initially puzzling researchers.The images first appeared in the September issue of the Journal of Raptor Research, and quickly spread throughout the internet.  This paper has received considerable attention in the media, including National Public Radio, National Geographic, Fox News, Scientific American, and New York Daily News, among many others.Authors include Linda Kerley of the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and Jonathan Slaght of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). Read the WCS press release here.

GIANT OWLS NEED GIANT TREES August 2013

Fish Owl with Prey

New York, N.Y.  August 15, 2013 — A study spearheaded by the Wildlife Conservation Society and the University of Minnesota has shown that the world's largest owl – and one of the rarest – is also a key indicator of the health of some of the last great primary forests of Russia's Far East.

The study found that Blakiston’s fish owl relies on old-growth forests along streams for both breeding and to support healthy populations of their favorite prey: salmon. The large trees provide breeding cavities for the enormous bird, which has a two-meter (six-foot) wingspan. And when these dead, massive trees topple into adjacent streams, they disrupt water flow, forcing the gushing river around, over, and under these new obstacles. The result is stream channel complexity: a combination of deep, slow-moving backwaters and shallow, fast-moving channels that provide important microhabitats critical to salmon in different developmental stages.

The study appears in the October issue of the journal Oryx, and is available here.
CLASSIC RUSSIAN TIGER BOOK NOW IN ENGLISH! August 2013

Winter Ecology Cover

Winter Ecology of the Amur Tiger, first published in Russian in 1987, is finally available to an English-speaking audience. This classic Russian monograph contains results of the most extensive snow-tracking of Amur (or Siberian) tigers ever conducted. Russian biologists Anatolii Yudakov and Igor Nikolaev tracked Amur tigers on foot for hundreds and hundreds of kilometers through the snow in the southern Russian Far East from 1970-1973, collecting information on movements and behavior. This updated edition features a Foreward by Dr. Dale Miquelle (WCS Russia Director), explaining why this is one of the most important publications on Amur tigers written in the 20th century. This expanded, second edition includes more than 40 photographs and 26 tables and maps. All Proceeds (100%) from the sale of this book go directly towards the Wildlife Conservation Society's efforts to save Amur tigers in the wild. See it for sale at Amazon.com here.

 


CANINE DISTEMPER VIRUS: AN EMERGING THREAT TO AMUR TIGERS August 2013

Hunting dog puppies in Russia

NEW REPORT IS THE FIRST PUBLISHED STUDY TO CONFIRM DISTEMPER AS A KILLER OF AMUR TIGERS

NEW YORK (August 14, 2013) – The first-ever published study to genetically characterize canine distemper virus (CDV) in tigers confirms that CDV acts as both a direct and indirect cause of death in the endangered big cats in the Russian Far East (RFE). The study was conducted by health experts from the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo (WCS), the Primorskaya State Agricultural Academy, Sikhote-Alin Reserve in Russia,Ussurisk Department of Health Services and Terney County Veterinary Services in Russia, and the Albert Einstein College (AEC) of Medicine of Yeshiva University.

Over the course of the investigation, scientists from WCS and the Russian veterinary institutions performed a series of tests on tissues from five adult tigers that died or were euthanized in 2001, 2004, and 2010after exhibiting abnormal neurologic signs. Microscopic examination using routine and special immunologic staining of brain tissue (available from two of the tigers) were highly suggestive of CDV infection. PCR, a highly sensitive and specific test, was used to genetically confirm that CDV was the cause of disease and death in these two tigers and had infected a third. It was also noted that during the study, three tiger cubs died as a result of abandonment by their CDV-infected mother.

The study, Canine Distemper Virus: An emerging disease in wild endangered Amur tigers, appears online in the current edition of mBIO (http://bit.ly/mbiotip0813b). 

OPERATION SNOW TIGER AIRS ON BBC June 2013

BBC cameratraps a Siberian Tiger

The first installment of Operation Snow Tiger, which features the work of WCS Russia as well as research being conducted by the Russian Academy of Sciences Severtsov Institute, was featured on BBC June 9th and June 16th, 2013 in the United Kingdom. The program will be aired shortly in the USA by Discovery Channel, but dates have not yet been set.

These programs track the process of saving a litter of three Siberian tiger cubs in late November and early December 2012 after their mother was apparently poached.   The film also features some of the first (and best!) video footage of tigers in Ussuriskii and Sikhote-Alinskii Zapovedniks (two of the most important tiger reserves in Russia), with some striking images of a young tigress in WCS’s long-term study area (who repeatedly visited a site where camera traps were positioned). 

Saving a Siberian Tiger Cub For a preview of the documentary click here.

These films do a nice job portraying the difficulties of trying to save tigers in the inhospitable environment of the Russian Far East, and demonstrates how much has been accomplished by WCS in our efforts to secure a future for tigers in Russia.

If you would like to support our efforts specifically to save the Siberian tiger, send us a note here and we will provide details.

CONFLICT TIGER DIES IN CAPTIVITY February 2013

tigerA tiger captured on February 28th died 5 days later, suffering from peritonitis and impaction of the stomach. The animal, apparently in bad condition, consumed the hide of a wild boar (possibly remains from a hunter kill) and impaction of the hair in the stomach prevented normal digestive processes, leading to peritonitis and eventually death.

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