On 24th September 2017, Tiger Day Festival celebrated the 18th anniversary in Vladivostok. According to Vladivostok city administration, as many as 18 thousand people attended the event.
Traditionally at noon the costumed parade units representing local schools, kindergartens, businesses, governmental agencies, non-governmental organisations, children’s activity centres and delegations from administrative districts of Primorye, started moving down Okeansky prospect to the central city square. In all, the parade itself comprised about 90 units. Every year, the participants compete in the main contest – the Best Parade Unit – and this year was no exception. The parade units used any and all possible methods such as colourful tiger costumes, masks, balloons, umbrellas, musical instruments, posters, and conservation slogans to encourage people to save Amur tigers and other wildlife in the Russian Far East.
Specialized motor vehicles (five quad bikes and ten off-road jeeps) designated for the use in taiga by anti-poaching teams headed the procession. Later on, on the central stage the vehicles were handed over to Primorsky Hunting Management Department by ANO Amur Tiger Centre.
Acting Vladivostok mayor Konstantin Mezhonov and Vladivostok City Duma Chairperson Andrei Brik were among the parade goers.
After the costumed parade ended, the festivities continued on the central city square. Head of the Presidential Control Directorate and chair of the Amur Tiger Centre Supervisory Board Konstantin Chuichenko, Primorye Territory Governor Vladimir Miklushevsky, and acting Vladivostok mayor Konstantin Mezhonov congratulated the residents and visitors on the 18th anniversary of Tiger Day. Then, three best parade units were awarded for brilliance, originality and full compliance with topic. This year the winners of the Best Parade’s Unit Contest are: 1st place – school # 22, 2nd place – school #82, 3rd place – kindergarten #151. Every parade unit received a prize – a Tiger Day memorable plate – designed and produced thanks to support from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Wildlife Conservation Society and Phoenix Fund.
Besides educational institutions of Vladivostok city, various organisations competed in the contest. According to the jury, the parade unit representing Federation of Primorsky Krai Trade Unions was the most colourful one. First, second and third place winners in this nomination got sweet prizes.
During the Tiger Day celebration two best rangers in Primorye and Khabarovsky krai, Alexander Moskalsky, state inspector of the Anyuisky National Park, and Evgeny Stoma, Deputy Director for Security of the Land of the Leopard National Park, who devoted their career and life to Amur tiger and leopard conservation, were awarded by representatives of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and Phoenix Fund. Since 2005, the best rangers have been awarded an international trip to India, the land of the Bengal tiger, to share their experience in preserving rare predators. Trip program usually includes visits to the Pench Tiger Reserve and the Kanha Tiger Reserve, both being the largest reserves for the Bengal tiger. In addition, Russian inspectors meet their Indian colleagues to get firsthand information about their work.
On the city square there were numerous thematic grounds where people could learn facts about the Amur tiger and tiger conservation projects and participate in various contests and quizzes.
This year, two partner organisations – the Phoenix Fund and Wildlife Conservation Society – joined their efforts in holding entertaining events during the Tiger Day Festival in Vladivostok. One tent served as a mini movie hall where people could relax and enjoy watching a film based on images of wildlife taken by camera traps installed in Amur tiger habitat. Another tent served as a place where representatives of parade units could get their gift plates. Also, kindergarten children could take part in a quiz and get a prize for correct answers to questions about the Amur tiger and other forest dwellers. Small children with great pleasure participated in colouring animals’ masks and “Know-The-Animal-Tracks” game. Behind the tents, over 100 people got his/her face painted as a tiger free of charge.
Also, the children enjoyed participating in the following contests organized by Phoenix and WCS: “Feed The Tiger”, “The Fastest Tiger” and “Tiger Hunt” with tug-of-war.
“Feed The Tiger” was the most favourite contest, with 372 participants. The children and adults could take part in dumbbells and kettlebell lifting competitions. Good technique was critical. The total weight lifted by a participant was made equivalent to the weight of tiger prey species. For example, if a contestant lifted dumbbells of 8 kg ten times, it meant that he fed a tiger with a wild boar weighing about 80 kg.
Participants in various contests organized by WCS and Phoenix staff could exchange coupons they earned to memorable prizes, namely magnets, pens, calendars, children’s books, cups, gift boxes with candies,T-shirts, etc.
“We are delighted to see that every year more and more people concerned about the fate of the Amur tiger participate in the Festival. When we started Tiger Day in 2000, a little over one hundred children gathered up. And today about 18 thousand people have come. It is symbolic that the Festival is celebrated for the 18th time in a row, and 18 thousand people have attended it! “, comments Director of the Phoenix Fund Sergei Bereznuk.
On the city square, there was a banner with a story devoted to famous tigress Cinderella (in Russian: Zolushka) that was discovered in taiga as a cub without its mother and saved by people from imminent death. After a long rehabilitation, the tigress was released back into the wild in Bastak Nature Reserve where she met the tiger Zavetny and gave birth to two cubs. American schoolchildren in New York (USA) were deeply impressed with this unique story and decided to illustrate some moments from tigress Cinderella’s life and publish a book. The money made from book sales is donated to tiger conservation projects implemented by the Wildlife Conservation Society in Russia. Pages of this book with children’s drawings and texts were printed as a banner in order to demonstrate that people not only in Primorye but also from other countries are concerned about the fate of the Amur tiger.
A live concert of local Russian rock bands Listya Travy (Leaves of Grass) and Starcardigan, and the famous Russian rock band Bi-2 (Russian: Би-2 Bi-dva) gave zest to the holiday. The concert was held on the stage of the city square.
The Phoenix Funds would like to thank volunteers from N. N. Dubinin Boarding School for Gifted Children, a branch of the Vladivostok State University of Economics and Services for their assistance at the thematic grounds during Tiger Day celebration. Moreover, we are grateful to the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, International Fund for Animal Welfare, ALTA, Dreamworld Conservation Fund for their continuous support of Tiger Day in Vladivostok and other towns in Primorye.
Note We would like to remind that the Tiger Day Festival began in 2000, when the Phoenix Fund took up an idea of children’s writer and game keeper Vladimir Troinin who celebrated the holiday in remote village schools for a few years. Phoenix offered the Far Eastern Branch of WWF to hold jointly the festival in Vladivostok, and so it happened with support from Vladivostok City Administration. In 2001, Tiger Day was officially announced as city festival, and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) joined the Festival Organizing Committee.