Nowadays, some people still regard tigers as bloodthirsty predators. People who live near tigers, are usually rather poor and considerably dependent on forest recourses. As a rule, they hold negative attitudes towards nature-conservation measures that prioritize wilderness and disregard their needs. Most of those people have livestock pasturing in the woods and pastureland where it can become an easy prey for tigers. In that case livestock owners suffer serious economic losses due to livestock depredation and try to revenge on predators by poisoning, entrapping or even shooting them off. Unfortunately, such actions by indignant farmers make injured predators approach human settlements in search of food because they are unable to hunt successfully in the forest suffering from wounds. Livestock and domestic dogs become an easy prey for tigers. Consequently, people’s attitude towards tigers and other wild animals may become more negative, and if depredations continue it may decrease people’s tolerance and result in appeals and demands to retaliate.
Moreover, hunters very often perceive tigers as their rivals that reduce the number of hoofed mammals on their hunting areas and disable them to get deer or a wild boar to feed their families. During such a struggle for hunting resources hunters often kill their striped ‘rival’ leaving the body of the predator untouched. We cannot ignore such situations and we also have to take into account the interests of people who live in the Amur tiger habitat. Since its establishment, the Phoenix Fund has been making every effort to assist organisations authorized to solve tiger-human conflicts.
Numerous successful operations to prevent, resolve and investigate tiger-human conflicts, to catch orphaned tiger cubs and sick or injured tigers, and to rehabilitate and release predators into the wild have become possible thanks to well-timed support provided by the Phoenix Fund, Wildlife Conservation Society, and other partners.
In Russia, a federal agency Inspection Tiger (http://www.tigr-dv.ru) has been effectively responding to the incidents caused by tiger-human conflicts. Its activities have resulted in the decrease of hostility towards tigers. Measures taken to address human-tiger conflicts include deterrence, capture and immobilization, and euthanasia as the last option for conflict resolution.
Captured tigers are moved to another region and then (sometimes after being rehabilitated at wildlife centres) they are returned to the wild or sent to a zoo. Despite the fact that it is very important to deal with conflict situations promptly, we believe that preventive measures also play an important role to maintain peaceful co-existence between tigers and people.
In reality, most conflict situations happen due to ignorance among local people about basic rules of human behaviour and livestock maintenance in Amur tiger habitat. In 2001, the Phoenix Fund published a brochure “Rules on how people should behave and maintain livestock in areas of tiger habitat in Primorsky krai” and distributed it among local people. For many years specialized centres where wild animals are provided with timely medical treatment have been playing an important role in the life of rescued or captured tigers.
For many years specialized centres that provide animals with care and medical treatment have been playing an important role in future of rescued and captured tigers. And for a long time Utyos Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre (http://animals.hbh.ru) established in 1991 by Vladimir Kruglov have been the only shelter for striped predators that needed people’s care and medical treatment. Utyos is located in Kutuzovka village, Lazo district of Khabarovsky krai. Since its establishment the centre has saved many tigers. Over the years, it has become an urgent need to create such a centre in Primorsky krai. In January 2011, its construction started under the Programme for studying the Amur tiger in the Russian Far East, the Russian Academy of Sciences’ A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, in conjunction with the federal agency Inspection Tiger, with the financial support from the Russian Geographical Society (http://programmes.putin.kremlin.ru/en/tiger/). The Amur Tiger Rehabilitation Centre of 3 ha was built near Alekseevka village, Nadezhdinsky district of Primorye. The Centre is a one-of-a-kind facility for tigers in Russia; its vast area lets prepare wild predators for release back into the wild. On March 16th 2012, the specialists of Inspection Tiger and Severtsov Institute informed about the first patient – a 5-6 month-old tigress named Cinderella that was found extremely emaciated by wildlife managers on February 25th 2012. At the moment, the young tigress is being prepared for return to the wild in spring 2013. In December 2012, three more tiger cubs joined Cinderella. They are planned to be released back to the wild in autumn 2013.