10 YEARS OF FIGHTING FOR TIGERS

9.02.2004

heroesThis only in Russia biodiversity conservation institution was formed in 1994 within State Ecological Committee of Primorsky krai with support from WildAid (former GSN), WWF and other funds. Nowadays, Inspection Tiger activities receive support from the Phoenix Fund, a Russian environmental NGO, and many foreign organizations – Save the Tiger Fund, 21st Century Tiger, David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, Tigris, IFAW, WWF, WCS and many others.

Creation of Inspection Tiger was more of necessity: in the beginning of the 90th, after opening the borders and dissolution of the federal nature conservation system, everything that could have been sold in Ussury taiga was pillaged and smuggled to neighboring China. The catastrophic situation affected endangered population of Amur tigers. According to Vladimir Schetinin, the founder of Inspection Tiger, over 100 (!) Amur tigers were poached in the Russian Far East during winter 1993-1994. Inspection Tiger became the only barrier to stop rampant poaching and destruction of the natural resources.

Nowadays there are 32 inspectors – environmental law enforcement officers working in tiger habitat, in Primorsky krai and south of Khabarovsky krai. Inspection Tiger has authority and a lot of experience that result from honesty and promptitude of the officers. Despite modest salary and dangerous work, people strive to work for Inspection. According to Andrei Yurchenko, the head of Inspection Tiger’s Khasan team that works in the Far Eastern leopard habitat, south -western Primorye, there is a line of over 300 people willing to work in his team.

A lot of difficult situations arise from tiger attacks on livestock in villages. In 1999 a Tiger Response team was established within Inspection Tiger to investigate and solve conflict tiger situations. According to Boris Litvinov, head of Tiger Response team, winter 2003-2004 was rich in such conflicts – since December 2003 the officers of the team have investigated 8 conflict situations, one of them, an attempt to save a sick tigress in Northern Primorye, sped swiftly over the world. One of the main reasons driving predators to the villages is a decrease in ungulates populations in taiga. Snowy winters 2001-2002 in Southern Primorye and 2002-2003 in central Primorye led to mass death of young ungulates.

As for concrete anti-poaching results: for the period 1994 -2003 the Inspection Tiger teams drew up over 3,920 records on violations, confiscated about 1,140 rifles, 55 tiger and 12 leopard skins, a lot of sets of bones and illegal hunting devices.

During the celebration, representatives of the Phoenix Fund and WWF awarded the most effective officers and wished good luck to Inspection Tiger in their important work on conservation of endangered wildlife of the Russian Far East.

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