A few of the transport means used by patrols in the Russian Far East. Analysis of patrol monitoring data showed that foot patrols are most effective in detecting and apprehending poachers.
Improving protection in 4 protected areas
This project has already substantially improved the protection of Amur tigers, Amur leopards and prey species in four key protected areas in the Russian Far East.
The Russian Far East is home to the world’s largest remaining population of wild Amur tigers, estimated at 430 to 500 individuals (2005). Recent data from the Amur Tiger Monitoring Program, a 15-year collaboration between the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Russian partners, provides strong evidence that both tiger and prey numbers are in decline. An increase in poaching, compounded by habitat loss, are the key drivers of this downward trend.
Findings of the Amur Tiger Monitoring Program highlight the importance of protected areas as core breeding habitat or ‘source sites’. Compared to adjacent forest lands, both adult and cub tiger densities in protected areas are significantly higher. However, despite their protected status, protected areas have experienced greater losses of tigers between 2005 and 2010 than unprotected areas due to poor law enforcement. Improving law enforcement in protected areas is therefore a priority for the conservation of tigers and other wildlife in the Russian Far East.
WCS’s comprehensive approach for improving anti-poaching in protected areas has already proven successful in other tiger range countries. The approach includes:
What is Law Enforcement Monitoring (LEM)?
The implementation of LEM along with additional support for anti-poaching patrols, has achieved the following results across a number of tiger conservation sites in Asia:
Open a MAP of the four protected areas where this project is implemented.
Our patrol reports provided a first opportunity for management and inspectors of protected areas to view maps showing the patrol routes of various teams. In addition, they provide simple figures and tables showing the number of patrol days, patrol distances, time spent on various patrols and results of each of the teams. It is not surprising that the first patrol reports were met with much interest during the first feedback meetings at the four protected areas. At Land of the Leopard National Park in particular, the reports led to very lively discussions between inspectors and the management about patrol quality and options for improvement.
In the first full program year, 2011, we saw a marked growth in anti-poaching results at the two sites where we first introduced LEM in comparison to the three years previous to the start of our program (see figure on the right). In both reserves, the numbers of firearms confiscated more than doubled, the numbers of poachers caught increased by 1.8 to 2.5 times, and the total amount of fines increased by 1.3 to 7.2 times. At least part of these results are due to an increase in patrol quality in 2011 compared to previous years.
In 2012, patrol quality continued to improve at both protected areas, however the patrol results (protocols for poaching and confiscated fire arms) dropped sharply (see figure below). This suggests that the intensity of poaching has been reduced, probably because firearms have been confiscated or because poachers decided to go elsewhere where the risk of being caught is less.
Reducing tiger and prey poaching through improved law enforcement is one of the key strategies for tiger conservation identified at the St. Petersburg International Tiger Summit 2010.