Inspection Tiger First Chief’s 70th anniversary

5.02.2013

Vladimir SchetininOn January 24, one of the oldest nature protectors of Primorye Vladimir
I. Schetinin celebrates his 70th anniversary. Every resident of the
region who is concerned about Amur tiger protection knows Vladimir very
well. His name is closely connected with “Tiger” Department created
in 1994 within the State Committee of Ecology of Primorsky krai. It is
the only agency in Russia responsible for a complex of measures of
biodiversity conservation. Vladimir Schetinin was the founder and the
first Head of the Department. “Tiger” team’s activity had great
repercussions in the region and country, as well as abroad.

Catastrophic situation in the early 90th of the past century in the
Ussuri taiga forest accounted for a necessity of such a department,
later transformed into Inspection Tiger. After collapse of the Soviet
Union and of the nature protection system along with it, everything
suitable for selling was sold to neighboring countries, nature resources
were robbed mercilessly. This can be also said about Amur tiger
population. According to Vladimir Schetinin’s data, during the winter
1992-1993 about 100 striped predators listed in the Endangered Species
List were poached.

The “Tiger” Department was meant to serve as a barrier to such
unconcealed devastation of nature. Apart from governmental support it
was funded by international non-governmental charities concerned about
Amur tiger well-being: WWF, Global Survival Network, DSWF and at present Tigris Foundation, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Save
the Tiger Fund, 21st Century Tiger (that all act through Russian
organization the Phoenix Fund), and Wildlife Conservation Society.

In its best years the “Tiger” Department counted eight teams that
focused on biodiversity conservation, mainly on Amur tiger, Amur leopard
and their habitat. Now there are less teams, but the essence of their
effective work remains the same: to reveal violations of nature
protection laws, investigate and resolve conflict cases between tiger
and man, bring up and adapt to nature orphaned tiger cubs, transport to
other areas tigers that due to some reasons got aggressive and dangerous for people but are still important for wild nature. Besides, the
officers prevent illegal ginseng digging, sea cucumber poaching and
illegal logging. Wide powers provided by the State Committee of Ecology
and legislation of the time made it a serious threat for poachers in the
land and in coastal zones. It succeeded in accomplishing its primary aim
to decrease poaching and stabilize Amur tiger numbers.

Vladimir Schetinin was the leader of Inspection Tiger from 1994 up to
1999 at the same time being deputy chairman of the State Committee of
Ecology of Primorsky region.

He was the leader in many things: the first scientific employee in
Zeisky nature reserve of Amursky region; one of the first members of
Primorsky regional committee of nature protection; the first Chief on
Inspection Tiger. And he has not retired yet. On his own initiative he
formed a set of documents required by the new Administrative Code. Now
he is planning to bring it into practice of all nature protecting
services. He cooperates with the Phoenix Fund as a law enforcement
consultant and from time to time with Inspection Tiger. Thus, for
example, in cooperation with officers of Zeisky nature reserve he
investigated a conflict tiger case in Amursky region last year. “It
was as if I had plunged into my young years”, – he says.

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