This year the key message of the Tiger Day Festival was to establish friendship among tigers and people. Two main organizers of the Festival – the Phoenix Fund and ANO WCS – joined their efforts in preparations for the holiday and visited festive occasions in Luchegorsk, Ternei and Novopokrovka village which took place on September 16-17.
The Tiger Day Festival in Luchegorsk town coincided with the 78th-anniversary of Pozharsky district. Traditionally, the Festival began with a carnival parade along the main street of Luchegorsk. As many as 14 delegations representing schools from ten villages, namely Fedosievka, Ignatievka, Nagornoye, Pozharskoye, Guberovo, Novostroika, Svetlogorye, Verkhny Pereval, Sobolinoye, Krasny Yar and Luchegorsk town participated in the parade.
In all, over 600 people attended the Festival. A “tiger car” headed the parade. The decorated vehicle was followed by a parade unit consisting of young conservationists from local schools and members of SHIP, young environmental journalists club. The children screamed wildlife conservation slogans to encourage people to save wildlife, water bodies and nature in the whole. Each delegation did its utmost to colourfully decorate its parade unit.
One of the brightest and eye-catching parade units was the unit representing recently established Bikin National Park. It was led by Tiger Vladik. Head of Pozharsky district Stanislav Filatov, Head of Luchegorsk town Vladimir Kozak, Chairperson of Pozharsky Duma Nikolai Borik, and Chairperson of Luchegorsk Municipal Committee Sergei Belyakov joined the carnival procession too.
Festivities took place on a stage at Play Park of Luchegorsk town. A lot of schools from Pozharsky district arrived in Luchegorsk not only to participate in the parade, but also to compete in “Striped Workshop Contest”. The main task for contest participants was to make a handcrafted tiger and represent it at a charitable auction. After the auction finished, children enjoyed participating in various quizzes, games and entertainments and got memorable gifts.
During Tiger Day Festival, residents of Luchegorsk made donations to support the tiger Zhorik at Utyos Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre. Moreover, there was a battery-collection event where used batteries were accepted from local people to protect our planet from household hazardous waste. All guests and residents were treated to ‘tiger porridge’ (buckwheat porridge) and hot tea.
The Tiger Day Festival was celebrated on a large scale in Ternei this year. Over 500 people gathered at the municipal park in order to express their concern about the fate of Amur tigers and commemorate the 100th anniversary of Russia’s protected areas system. Traditionally, the Festival started with a festival parade each unit of which competed in “Best Parade Unit’ contest. Schoolchildren from Roschino, Plastun, Amgu and Kavalerovo participated in festive procession.
The Phoenix Fund together with ANO WCS, Uragus eco-club, Sikhote-Alin Biosphere Nature Reserve arranged 12 thematic playgrounds where children and adults could show their talents and knowledge of tiger biology. At the playgrounds, people learned to make balloon animals and figures. Small children were busy colouring and cutting out animal masks. Also, there was Pottery Place where kids used a pottery wheel to make clay pots. They were so happy, with their hands covered in wet clay.
The participants visited with great pleasure Bandana Painting Place, Draw on Sand Place, Bas Relief Painting Place, Tiger Face Painting Place and others. Lively persons competed in Feed a Tiger Contest by lifting different weights – dumbbells and kettlebells. The more weights a contestant lifted the more kilograms of wild meat a tiger got. At another active playground children extinguished “fires” with the use of water pistols.
Every child was given a small gift for his/her participation in festive contests and entertainments. In the evening, there was a concert, film screening about the beauties of Sikhote-Alin Nature Reserve and incredible fireworks. Moreover, there was a flash mob during which everyone lighted up a flashlight to make a number “100” commemorating 100th anniversary of Russia’s protected areas system. To get a bird’s eye view, it was photographed with the use of an UAV.
On Saturday, September 16th, Tiger Day Festival celebrated in Kirovsky town. As many as 180 children and 60 adults took part in a traditional parade that marched along the town’s main street. Galina Goy, famous eco-leader in Kirovsky, welcome guests and residents of Kirovsky and expressed thanks to the Phoenix Fund for assisting in holding this unique ecological holiday the 8th consecutive year in Kirovsky district. Then, schoolchildren showed performances about tigers and poaching. There was a number of contests for children, namely “The most strong, fast and clever tiger”, “Asphalt Drawings” “The Best Tiger Face”, “The Best Tiger Costume” and “The Best Tiger Painting”. Every kid received a memorable prize for participation in the festive event. At the end of the Festival, local musical band “Attack” amused the audience.
On Sunday, September 17th, Tiger Day Festival was celebrated in Novopokrovka town. The rare striped predator became the hero of the day for the local residents on the 15th jubilee occasion. Several hundred children and adults were traditionally dressed in orange and black outfits, animal carnival costumes, and marched along the main street forming a cheerful parade in defense of the Amur tiger.
The increased number of participants at the festival indicates that many people know and understand the need for tiger conservation. And the fifteen-year educational work of the “Namba” eco-centre with the continued support from the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation is paying off.
The Tiger Day Festival in Novopokrovka became a favorite holiday among the local children. After all, this ecological holiday was initiated for the young generation to promote careful and responsible attitude towards the amazing creature of nature that is the Amur tiger. On Sunday, a striped cat was at every turn – on flags and drawings, on children’s faces, on balloons and in songs that were heard far beyond the central square.
“I have never seen so many “tigers” nowhere before! Wish there were as many of them in the wild”, exclaimed one of the spectators at the main square feeling choked with emotions. The anthem of the Tiger Day, poems, songs, and creative performances devoted to tiger and nature were played on the brightly decorated stage. Special playgrounds organized along the square allowed all the guests to entertain, win holiday souvenirs and learn more about their striped neighbor and the efforts of conservation organizations all over the world to preserve it.
Director of the Phoenix Fund Sergei Bereznuk solemnly congratulated the Namba eco-centre with the 15th anniversary, and presented “Namba’s” leader Valeria Nazarova with a letter of gratitude on behalf of the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation for her commitment in helping raise awareness through education and outreach for one of the world’s most beautiful and endangered mammals.
A large number of people did their utmost to organize Tiger Day celebrations in the regional centres of the Primorsky Krai, and we are grateful for the continuous support of this holiday from the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, Amur Leopard and Tiger Alliance, Dreamworld Conservation Fund, and International Funв for Animal Welfare.
Note We would like to remind that the Tiger Day Festival began in 2000, when the Phoenix Fund took up an idea of children’s writer and game keeper Vladimir Troinin who celebrated the holiday in remote village schools for a few years. Phoenix offered the Far Eastern Branch of WWF to hold jointly the festival in Vladivostok, and so it happened with support from Vladivostok City Administration. In 2001, Tiger Day was officially announced as city festival, and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) joined the Festival Organizing Committee.