The 13th annual Tiger Day Celebration was held in Vladivostok on September 30, 2012. The weather was beautiful, and the parade was a great success. Over 4,000 brightly colored costumed participants proceeded down Okeansky Avenue, and at the intersection of Okeansky Avenue and Svetlanskaya Street circled the downtown square. Roller skaters, skateboarders and Segway users with Tiger Day flags led the carnival procession. They were followed by fancy-dressed bicyclists with decorated bikes. Bicycle is the most ecological and healthy means of transport, and usage of bikes during the holiday is very symbolic. Marchers, children and adults of different ages dressed mostly as tigers and with “tiger” make-up, chanted joyfully various nature conservation slogans, sang songs, read verses and roared as tigers. The parade comprised not only units from Vladivostok, but also from other districts of Primorye. Moreover, many local businesses supported the festival, with sponsorship or by entering the procession – or both. In addition, about 5,000 spectators descended downtown to watch the parade.
The parade itself comprised 74 units of schoolchildren and university students. They competed in the main contest – “the best parade unit” – that is why they used all available things such as balloons, flags, toy animals, ribbons, and masks, to adorn their unit goers. This year the Tiger Day Organizing Committee decided to award every parade unit of schoolchildren with sandblasted award trophy cups with tiger image. Besides, the parade units competed for three main prizes. They performed for up to 30 seconds in front of the jury’s stand. As always, it was a real challenge for the jury to choose the best parade unit, because all the participants deserved to win. This year the winners are: 1st place – school # 60, 2nd place – gymnasium #1, 3rd place – school #22.
This year the mayor of Vladivostok Igor Pushkarev made the opening speech and awarded two citizens of Vladivostok for their valuable contribution to the ecological education of local community. And we are delighted to inform that Sergei Bereznuk, director of the Phoenix Fund, was one of the awardees. After that, the representatives of the Tiger Day Organizing Committee and international guests made a speech from the stage to thank people for coming to commemorate the big cats and supporting nature conservation projects.
At 13:50 a festive concert and various contests started on the central square. With great enthusiasm and excitement the children participated in an art contest drawing tigers with chalks on asphalt. There were pavilions where representatives of ecological organizations, such as Phoenix Fund, World Wildlife Fund and International Fund for Animal Welfare, told about their conservation efforts, handed out small souvenirs with Tiger Day logo, and painted children’s faces in a tiger design using face paint. Those who were interested in glass beads handmade creations had a chance of improving their skills thanks to a master class by Arseniev museum.
At the Phoenix’ pavilion, a photo booth with an image of tiger gave the guests of the festival a possibility to make a unique memory photo of Tiger Day. Natalia Drobysheva, a highly skilled teacher, gave the children a quiz with questions about Amur tiger and other tiger subspecies. Every child who gave a correct answer received a small gift, such as a tiger paw magnet, bookmark with info about tigers, toy tiger or colorful calendars with tiger images. Also, concerned people had a chance to participate in a fund raising event organized by the Phoenix Fund with a view of collecting money to support Cinderella tigress at the rehab centre and prepare her for release back into the wild. The tigress has a high chance of being released in March 2013. Thanks to generous donations from individuals over 15,354 roubles ($495) were collected and sent to the rehab centre. And the fund-raising campaign is still going on.
At 15:00, after a series of performances by children dance groups, the winners of various contests received their awards on the central stage. At 19:00 the daytime part of the holiday was followed by a live rock music festival with a spectacular laser light show.
In September, the Tiger Day holiday also was celebrated in Lazo, Kirovka, Partizans, Terney, Arsenev and Novopokrovka towns. The Phoenix Fund provided support for educators of local schools to organize holiday events for children and adults. On October 13th Tiger Day will be celebrated in Luchegorsk.
Best Ranger Competition 2012
The Best Ranger Competition-2012 is the 7th anniversary of this competition, starring the best environmental law enforcement officers in Primorye and Khabarovsky krai who devoted their career and life to Amur tiger and leopard conservation! The competition established and supported by the International Fund for Animal Welfare has evolved over the past six years from one that was originally created to salute the best two men for their contribution to conservation of rare and endangered big cats. Since 2005 the best rangers have been awarded a 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.
This year the Wildlife Conservation Society and Phoenix Fund who monitor implementation of MIST work in Primorye have selected the best inspectors by calculating the patrol efforts and results of all individual inspectors of the four protected areas (Zov Tigra National Park, Lazovsky Nature Reserve, Sikhote Alin Nature Reserve and Land of the Leopard National Park) on the basis of their patrol efforts and results in the first 8 months of 2012 (January-August). Anna Filippova, IFAW’s Program Head, announced the names of candidates during Tiger Day celebration on September 30th. Sergei Marchenko from Zov Tigra National Park and Evgeny Terentiev of South’s team in Land of the Leopard are going to visit India in February 2013. Congratulations!
History of the holiday
The Tiger Day Festival is an annual autumn event held by the Phoenix Fund in cooperation with its partners such as International Fund for Animal Welfare, Amur branch of WWF-Russia, Business Solution and others, and under the auspices of Vladivostok city administration. The first event was held to commemorate Amur tigers and leopards in Vladivostok in 2000 and attracted a few hundreds of visitors, and since then has grown into the regional level holiday with thousands of guests and participants. It is Russia’s brightest and biggest ecological holiday, during which there are fun for all ages. The holiday reminds people about the uniqueness and beauty of the territory they live in. The Amur tiger is a symbol of Vladivostok and Primorsky krai; it is the most respected animal in the Russian Far East.
The main goal of the holiday is to help save the Amur tiger in the wild for future generations – not just on logos and coats of arms – and to draw international attention to the plight of this endangered species. Involving as more children as possible in the festival is our main task. We hope that capturing their interest at an early age, we have the opportunity to make a difference that will last for generations to come. Various festival entertainments involve children in many ways. They participate in contests, arts and crafts and other nature activities held under tents. High school students are also involved, as volunteers to assist with the younger children.
Traditionally, Tiger Day is celebrated on the fourth Sunday of September. The festival usually begins at the afternoon, with festive parade and opening ceremony at the central Square of Vladivostok. In a typical year, 3,000 marchers participate in a parade, including bands, school groups, social and cultural clubs, and 3 thousand spectators line the streets. Then, the parade is followed by the performance of children’s dancing groups, various contests and entertainments. These festivities last from noon into the evening. The Tiger Day is held annually on the fourth Sunday of September in accordance with Mayor’s Order. But due to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit that was held on September 2-9, 2012 and a later school year start, the Festival Organizing Committee made the decision to move the Festival up one week later, and celebrate it in Vladivostok on September 30th. This change of date of the holiday allowed the Festival participants (schoolchildren and university students) to better prepare for the holiday.
Thanks to ongoing support from the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF), Dreamworld Wildlife Foundation, Rolex Awards for Enterprises, 21st Century Tiger and other sponsors Tiger Day was celebrated not only in Vladivostok, but also in other cities of Primorye, namely Terney, Partizansk, Novopokrovka, Kirovka, Arseniev, and Luchegorsk. The Tiger Day Festival continues to grow every year and attract more participants.