On February 21, the employees of the Phoenix Fund and ANO Wildlife Conservation Society held a quarterly meeting with law-enforcement officers of the Ussuriisky Nature Reserve and discussed the results of the patrol work with the SMART program.
It is worth mentioning that the Ussuriisky Nature Reserve is exemplary protected area in terms of anti-poaching protection. Small and friendly inspectors’ staff of the reserve spends days and nights patrolling the territory, giving offenders no chance to get into the protected area for illegal hunting. Every month the inspectors cover more than 500 km on foot and up to 2,000 km of roads by vehicles. These results are supported by the accurate data collected with GPS units, which are used by the teams during patrols since 2014, after the SMART anti-poaching monitoring program was introduced in the reserve.
“The benefit of working with SMART, in addition to the convenience of patrol work monitoring, lies in the fact that people have self-control mechanism now– says the director of the Ussuriisky reserve Andrey Kotlyar. – It is obvious for everyone who and how many hours worked for. Old disputes between inspectors of Suvorovskaya and Komarovskaya teams stopped as the efforts of both teams received an adequate assessment in the bonus system. We plan to improve the SMART program further, bringing it to the most appropriate options in the current conditions of law-enforcement work in the reserve.”
The latest presentation of the results of anti-poaching work for the period from October 2016 to January 2017 was prepared and presented by reserve’s staff member Evgeny Ogorodnikov. After receiving training and getting help in reporting on SMART initially from the specialists of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Phoenix Fund, Evgeny gained the necessary experience for the independent data entry and analysis. The resume of the presentation, which both the inspectors and the director of the reserve Andrey Kotlyar listened with great attention, became consistently high results of the patrol efforts. During four months, 41 administrative citations were issued. The majority of offenders were collectors of cedar cones, who were fined for more than 150,000 rubles ($2,500) in total. During the reported period, 52 traces of tigers’ presence were recorded in the reserve. In the conversation, the inspectors also confirmed that tigers make appearance more often lately. The reason for that is the increased number of wild boar which feeds on good cedar harvest this year.
Director of the Phoenix Fund Sergei Bereznuk thinks highly of Protective Service of the reserve: “In my opinion, the law enforcement staff of the Ussuriisky Nature Reserve is some of the most professional and experienced among the other protected areas in the south of the Russian Far East. Thanks to inspectors’ selfless, planned, and daily work the reserve’s territory is well protected from poachers and is a quiet home to numerous inhabitants of the Ussuriiskaya taiga. The latest SMART presentation confirmed this.”
Despite the excellent results of the law-enforcement service, there are many problems that the Ussuriisky Nature Reserve faces every day. And they all stem from a lack of funding. The reserve, which is historically under the jurisdiction of Federal Agency for Scientific Organizations (while other protected areas of Primorye are under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Natural Resources), experiences constant difficulties in obtaining funding to implement protection. The director and the team of inspectors, many of whom have dedicated years of their life to protection of the reserve and resident Amur tigers, use all possible resources to draw the authorities’ attention to the situation.
The staff of the Ussuriisky Nature reserve expresses gratitude for support of the SMART program to their partners – ALTA, Kolmarden Fundraising Foundation, Dreamworld Wildlife Foundation, Rufford Foundation, Wildlife Conservation Society, David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation and Phoenix Fund.
Reference: in 2010-2011 the Phoenix Fund in cooperation with Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Zoological Society of London (ZSL) launched Management Information System (MIST), that was later replaced by its improved version SMART, in four protected areas of Primorye located in main tiger habitat. SMART is a patrol management tool developed to support and improve anti-poaching activities. SMART is a GIS (Geographic Information System) that makes it possible to compare standardized performance indicators between teams, conservation sites and time periods and to view patrol efforts and results on conservation site maps.