World's biggest tiger living in Russian woods saved from extinction

Russian scientists discovered that the population of the beautiful Amur tiger was growing slowly but surely

The ecological research, which Russian scientists conducted in the winter of 2004-2005, revealed that the number of Amur tigers living in the woods of Russia's Far East reached about 500 individuals: 334-417 adult tigers and 97-112 tiger cubs.

The Amur tiger is the largest and the strongest predator of the felines. Russia carries responsibility to the whole world for the preservation of the Amur tiger: 90 percent of the animal's population is concentrated on the Russian territory.

The previous registration of the Amur tiger, which was conducted in 1995-1996, showed that the number of Russian tigers was smaller – scientists could find only 450 individuals. The latest research proved that the population was growing steadily, which is a very important thing to know, taking into consideration the fact that Amur tigers were becoming extinct only several decades ago.

”It is generally believed that there were a thousand tigers living in the Far East of Russia in the beginning of the 20th century,” the director of WWF Russia, Igor Chestin said. – The animals were being hunted actively: only 150 tigers had been left by the middle of the past century,” said he.

The Amur tiger is listed on the international Red Book. However, the animal still falls victim of poachers. When the USSR collapsed, the Russian-Chinese border became virtually open. Poachers started exterminating tigers to sell their organs to Chinese medics. About 70 tigers were killed every year, which means that the species could be exterminated completely at the end of the past century.

WWF, WCS and other ecological associations launched a project to save the Amur tiger from destruction in 1994. Ecologists managed to create six national parks on the total area of 934 thousand hectares of the Khabarovsk region of Russia (the Far East). In 1999, WWF Russia developed the strategy to preserve the Amur tiger in Russia.

”The tiger used to live near humans decades ago. Nowadays, the tiger lives among humans,” Amirkhan Amirkhanov, a spokesman for the Russian Ministry for Nature said. “It is especially important nowadays to save the animal from the influence of human activities, which result in the destruction of its natural area and environment,” the official said.

The Amur tiger lives in coniferous and deciduous forests of Asia, which have been preserved only in the Far East of Russia. There is a rich diversity of species living in such woods, which gives tigers an opportunity to exist on the top of the pyramid of numbers. Unlike Indian tigers, Amur tigers do not kill humans, biologists emphasize. The tiger hunts for hoofed animals – dappled deer, roe deer, wild boars, etc. The predator needs to kill up to 400-500 herbivores for its normal existence. Tigers may attack livestock and dogs at times too, but such conflicts happen because of the insufficient number of wild hoofed animals.

Amur tigers live on one and the same territory for many years. The territory of a tigress makes up 300-350 square kilometers, whereas the territory of a male tiger is much larger. As a rule, tigers breed every two years; a female tiger usually gives birth to one or two cubs.

The recent registration of tigers became the largest scientific research, which has ever been conducted for the purpose of saving the beautiful big cat. The funds for the work were assigned by the Ministry for Natural Resources and ecological organizations. About one thousand of specialists had to explore thousands of kilometers of the Far Eastern woods.

”The preservation of the stable population of the Amur tiger is a huge success of our country. However, the fate of the beautiful animal is still in danger. Russian tigers live in the northern woods of Russia, in most severe conditions, where there is a strong lack of food resources,” Igor Chestin concluded.

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Author`s name Olga Savka