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WCS Russia Projects

A tiger passes one of our camera traps in
southwest Primorye . Photo by WCS

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WCS Russia is committed to conducting the best scientific research as a foundation for effective conservation action, and to engage local communities as key stakeholders in wildlife conservation in the Russian Far East. Links to all of our projects, which represent one of WCS’s largest field programs in Asia, are found at left, and summarized briefly below.

Research Program: Large Carnivores

Siberian Tiger Project

The Siberian Tiger Project is the longest running radio-telemetry based tiger research and conservation project in the world.Each year this study brings new information that assists in designing realistic conservation plans not only for the Siberian tiger, but for tigers across Asia.The Siberian Tiger Project also provides the foundation for WCS to assist the Russian government in addressing tiger-human conflicts, and to train the next generation of young specialists that will lead wildlife conservation efforts in the Russian Far East. Project Coordinators: Dr. Ivan Seryodkin and Dr. Dale Miquelle

Setting a camera trap for Far Eastern Leopard, photo by WCS Russia
WCS researcher Sasha Rybin sets a camera trap
in Far Eastern leopard range. Photo by WCS.

Amur Leopard Conservation

WCS is working to improve understanding of Far Eastern (or Amur) leopard ecology as a basis for the conservation of this sub-species,one of the world’s most endangered cats. Our activities include population monitoring and ecological and biomedical research, as well as efforts to improve wildlife and habitat management in the leopard’s range. Project Coordinators:Dr. Dale Miquelle and Mr. Aleksandr Rybin

Brown Bear Program

Our Brown Bear Program seeks to enhance biodiversity conservation throughout the Russian Far East (Primorye, Kamchatka, Sakhalin Island) through conservation of the region's brown bears. In collaboration with local experts and institutions, WCS is acquiring necessary data on brown bears while there is still time to create an effective bear management regime. We are also promoting brown bear education, inter-agency collaboration, responsible tourism, and are working to train specialists in human-bear conflict situations. Project Coordinator: Dr. Ivan Seryodkin

Amur Tiger Surveys and Monitoring

Millions of dollars have been invested in tiger conservation, both in the Russian Far East and elsewhere across tiger range.Yet, without effective surveys and monitoring there exists no mechanism to assess the success or failure of conservation activities. Since the early1990s, WCS has been a leader in improving reliability and accuracy of tiger surveys in the Russian Far East. In addition, our Amur Tiger Monitoring Program provides a statistically sound basis to annually assess Amur tiger population status and trends. Project Coordinators: Dr. Dale Miquelle and Dr. Ivan Seryodkin

Research Program: Other Species

A raccoon dog, a target of our disease screening.
Photo by J. Slaght, WCS

Wildlife Health

Frustratingly little is known about the status of infectious diseases in endangered felid populations and coexisting wildlife across Asia.  In the Russian Far East, canine distemper has emerged as a potential new threat to Siberian tigers, plus there are a large number of other pathogens that could affect tigers and leopards, including rabies virus, feline retroviruses, and other infectious agents. We are working with Russian veterinarians to screen local populations of wild and domestic small carnivores to better understand the current infectious disease landscape,and understand how an outbreak might impact tigers and leopards. Project Coordinator: Dr. Ivan Seryodkin and Mr. Martin Gilbert.

Blakiston’s Fish Owl Project

Blakiston’s Fish Owl, an endemic species unique to Northeast Asia, is the largest owl in the world, and one of the most poorly understood.  WCS is leading efforts to improve understanding of Blakiston’s fish owl habitat use, which is greatly needed for development of sound conservation plans for the species, whose apparent need for old-growth, riverine habitat is in direct conflict with logging interests. See www.fishowls.org for more complete details. Project Coordinator: Dr. Jonathan Slaght

Research Program: Habitat Studies

Tiger habitat in southwest Primorye, near
the Chinese border . Photo by J. Slaght, WCS.

Musk Deer Project

Musk deer are the object of intensive harvest, both legal and illegal, for their valuable scent glands that are used in the perfume industry.  Additionally, intensive harvest of conifer forests is destroying the lichens that are the key winter forage for musk deer.  In February 2012, we began  a collaborative study (partners include Pacific Institute of Geography, Sikhote-Alin Biosphere Zapovednik, Svertsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, and World Wildlife Fund) to examine musk deer resource selection to better understand key components of musk deer habitat and the relative impact of hunting of deer versus habitat changes due to logging. In addition to telemetry, we are also directly observing individuals’ behavior and surveying forest structure. We expect that results will help determine the relative importance of factors negatively impacting musk deer populations, which in turn will have specific management implications for both the hunting community and the logging industry. Project Coordinators: Dr. Ivan Seryodkin and Ms. Daria Maksimova

Road Closure Project

Logging roads provide access to remote areas of the Russian Far East, increasing the chances of poaching both tigers and their prey.  While many conservation organizations are focused on the impact of logging, we believe that the developing forest roads network is the greater threat to many wildlife species in Russia and elsewhere.Just north of the Sikhote-Alin Biosphere Zapovednik, and surrounding the proposed Kema-Amginskii Nature Park, we are working with the head of a local timber concession (OAO Amgu) to assess the feasibility of closing logging roads and to assess the impact of road closure in recovering key tiger prey species, including red deer, wild boar, and roe deer. Project Coordinator: Dr. Jonathan Slaght

Working with Local Communities             

Anti-Poaching

WCS’s comprehensive strategy to improve effectiveness of anti-poaching efforts in protected areas has yielded impressive results in Russia. This ambitious project, based around simple adaptive management of reserve inspector effort and results, is conducted in close cooperation with our partners Phoenix Fund,the Zoological Society of London, and partner nature reserves. Project Coordinators: Mr. Michiel Hotte and Mr. Igor Kolodin.

Fire Management

Anthropogenic ground fires are slowly destroying remaining forest habitat of Far Eastern leopard in southwest Primorskii Krai. The goal of this highly-effective project is to reduce the damage caused by these wild fires and to encourage restoration of the original forest. Project Coordinator: Mr. Michiel Hotte.

Hunters and Tigers Project

Less than 20% of existing Amur tiger habitat is protected in nature reserves, while the rest exists as multiple-use hunting territories. Hunters are therefore key stakeholders in tiger conservation, and we are working with hunting groups in a variety of ways to improve habitat for tigers and their prey. Project Coordinator: Mr. Anton Semyonov.


Primorskii Krai Wildlife Department and WCS working
together to translocate a conflict tiger . Photo by WCS.

Human-Tiger Conflicts

Compared to other tiger-range countries, Russia has a successful record of managing tiger conflicts. WCS works closely with federal and provincial agencies to provide expert support in assessing the status of conflict tigers and making sound decisions about the appropriate course of action. Our efforts reduce the threat to human health and welfare, and increase overall tiger survival rates. Project Coordinators: Dr. Dale Miquelle and Dr. Ivan Seryodkin

Trans-Border Conservation

Arctic Beringia

Our vision is the continued vibrancy of Arctic Beringia as one of the most productive marine and terrestrial complexes on the planet. WCS aims to ensure healthy populations of Arctic species such as polar bear, walrus, arctic fox, muskoxen, ice-dependent seals, and shorebirds continue to thrive in the region. We work to protect these and other wildlife from pressures related to a rapidly changing climate and the onset of new industrial development while ensuring the region’s indigenous communities can continue to depend on local natural resources for food security and cultural vitality.

Tiger Restoration: the Sino-Russian Trans-boundary Program

WCS, in partnership with Panthera, is working to demonstrate that not only can we secure a future for existing populations of tigers, but with focused efforts, it is possible to recover tiger numbers in former tiger range. WCS Russia works closely with the WCS China Program in implementing tiger conservation activities in southwest Primorskii Krai, Russia and adjacent northeast China, where suitable tiger habitat still exists, and where, we believe, a dramatic recovery of tiger numbers is possible. Project Coordinators:Dr. Dale Miquelle and Ms. Dina Matyukhina

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