In the beginning of August the Phoenix Fund with support from the Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Fund produced the Amur tiger educational kit consisting of 4 colourful posters and teachers’ guide. In total, 1,000 copies of the Tiger educational kit were published. Each poster contains a text on the poster’s theme and 7 – 15 pictures illustrating the text. The posters’ content is developed in close co-operation with the researchers of Research Institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences and educators of Primorsky Institute of Further Training of Educators. Besides, the teachers’ guide has also been developed.
The 1st poster, entitled “Evolution of the Cat family and the tiger”, highlights the origin of tigers, for example, first traces of the human kind date back to as far as 40,000 years, but the tiger history started 5 millions years before the dawn of the human society. Only 20,000 years ago the sable-toothed tigers roamed in the forests. The 1st poster shows the modern cats group: pumas, ocelots, caracals, servals, lynxes, domestic cats, Asian leopard cats, Temminck’s golden cat, and panthers. From the panther class the pointer leads to tigers. The tiger class is presented with photos of all tiger subspecies, even extinct. The extinct subspecies are shown in black frame. A map shows tiger distribution from the year 1900 – up to year 1990. Moreover, the poster demonstrates the use of a tiger image in the stamps, postcards, pictures, symbols and emblems. Many Nations consider tiger as a deity: several examples are given on the 1st poster.
The other three posters focus on the Amur tiger subspecies. The 2nd poster, entitled “Habitat and way of life”, comprises the life cycles of tigers: the run, pregnancy, litters, upbringing of the cubs, relationship between male and female tigers, especially, if there are cubs. The beginning of the hunting season, tracks on the trees, spray etc. This poster has a number of Amur tiger in the beginning and at the end of the 20th century. The poster also comprises such information about tiger as: tiger family (tiger cubs, breeding period etc), the scientific information (size, weight, teeth, head, skin, paws and claws, population and habitat, the way of living, hunting and food base).
The 3rd poster entitled “Reasons for tiger population decline. Prey base” clarifies how much and what a tiger can eat per week, month, depending on the season, and what happens, if there is not enough prey. The poster also includes the pictures of wild boar, sika deer, roe deer, badger, Asiatic black bear, raccoon, elk, musk deer, hare, wolf, fox, and brown bear. The poster highlights the reasons for tiger population decline (logging, fires, roads building, illegal hunting and poaching).
The 4th poster entitled “Tiger and man” describes poaching, smuggling, derivatives use, as well as conservation efforts, CITES and anti-poaching activity. The 4th poster has information about history of tiger conservation and study, including information about history and development of relationship between human and tiger, about ecological education and outreach, study and research. Prior to publication of the posters, the Phoenix Fund give their previews to tiger specialists to check the accuracy of information presented on the posters and give their comments and recommendations. The specialists from Moscow Zoo also examined the posters and gave their comments regarding the text.
Besides posters, the Phoenix Fund developed and published the teachers’ guide explaining how to carry out classes and giving additional information on the issues given in the posters. The Tiger educational kit was approved in Primorsky Institute of Further Training of Educators for its further use in the educational process in Primorye.
Now, these educational kits are being distributed among the schools in Primorye to be used during Biology and Ecology classes for pupils from 9-11 to 13-17 years old. These posters have strengthened greatly environmental education and outreach at schools by establishing the tiger education component. With the posters’ lifetime of 3-4 years, the posters will serve to all the young generation of Primorye. Approval and positive recommendations of the Institute’s Reviewing Committee have opened the door for ingraining the Tiger education component in the state education programme in Primorye. Besides schools, the educational kits are also being distributed among local and city libraries and eco-centres to foster positive attitude of local population towards tigers.
The Anglo Russian charity AMUR suggested to publish additional copies of the posters for zoos and some eco-centres in Russia and kindly provided financial support for extra copies. As more and more Russian zoos are taking up the modern philosophy of being centres of education and support for conservation it is becoming increasingly apparent that they, and the schools they serve, lack decent educational materials to allow them to fulfil this role. Therefore, the additional posters were published for Russian zoos and eco-centres.
We hope that developed Tiger educational kit will be a valuable source of information for educators, staff of ecological centres and libraries, zoos, pupils and students, and all persons concerned in the Amur tiger conservation issue.
This successful project is a result of joint efforts of many organizations and individuals, such as Wildlife Conservation Society, ecological museum of the Far Eastern State University, “TIGIS” cartographic centre, Inspection Tiger, Dale Miquelle (WCS), Victor Yudin, Sergei and Olga Khokhryakovs (Lazovsky reserve), John Goodrich (WCS), Yuri Trusch (public ranger), Irina Milenina (Phoenix), Yuri Shibnev, Albina Zaslavskaya and many others. Thanks to support from the Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Fund, we managed to increase the knowledge on the tiger and threats for its survival, increase awareness of the plight of this animal.