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Hunters and Tigers Project

Alt Text
Red deer are one of the most important
tiger prey species, and are also hunted
by throughout tiger range.
WCS attempts to reduce the sense of
competition between
hunters and tigers.
 

In order to sustain a viable population of Amur tigers, all current tiger habitat in the Russian Far East must be maintained. Yet only 10% of existing Amur tiger habitat is protected in nature reserves, while the rest exists as multiple-use hunting territories. For this reason, hunters are key stakeholders in tiger conservation.

Hunting is an important recreational and subsistence tradition in the Russian Far East. There are more than 60,000 registered hunters in the region, who, like tigers, rely on multiple-use lands. Wildlife management organizations (WMOs) are responsible for managing hunting, controlling poaching and conducting surveys of game species on leased hunting territories encompassing about 80% of Russian tiger range.

WCS works with WMOs to promote effective wildlife management on multiple-use hunting leases, which will result in:

  1. An increase of ungulate populations;
  2. Conservation of endangered species (particularly Amur tigers);
  3. Improved rural livelihoods, with economic benefits linked to conservation of tigers and the landscapes they depend upon. 

Legal Assistance, Education and Information Exchange

WCS supported the creation of legal assistance centers that provide consultations to WMOs in Primorsky and Khabarovsky Krais. Legal assistance centers promote stable and proper functioning of hunting leases, which is necessary for improving wildlife management.

Since 1999, WCS has sponsored a number of education and training programs for wildlife managers, and today we are working to facilitate development of a quality wildlife management curriculum at a local university. WCS also regularly organizes publication of materials for wildlife managers and for the general public about the role of hunting leases in promoting conservation. Finally, we supported creation of a Union of Hunters and Fishermen in both Primorsky and Khabarovsky Krais in order to provide a forum that brings together the most active wildlife managers to exchange information and influence regional wildlife management policies.

Model Leases

In order to facilitate development of replicable models of high-quality wildlife management, WCS is providing consistent support to several WMOs in Amur tiger range. Our goal is to demonstrate that if hunting territories are properly managed, increases in ungulate populations and profits can occur simultaneously, and that poaching and poor management – not tigers - are not responsible for declines in ungulate density.

Tiger Friendly Certification

The Tiger Friendly Certification (TFC) program provides economic incentives for tiger conservation on hunting lease territories. Tigers are used as an indicator of ecosystems integrity, and as a charismatic marketing tool to evoke “green” consumer behavior. Tiger Friendly links access to international markets for leases that meet certification criteria, which include moderate densities of tigers, sufficient prey to support tigers, effective anti-poaching activities, sustainable harvest practices, community involvement and fair distribution of profits.