Russia is the largest country in the world and boasts a fabulous array of habitats and biodiversity. As such, it has long been the home of the solitary roamer, the tiger. Tigers need fairly large territories in which to hunt, live and rear their young.
They also need sufficient water as well as shelter that will conceal them when they are hunting. Male Bengal Tigers need about 175 square miles (or over 280 square kilometres), while tigresses can survive within eight square miles (or about 13 square kilometres). Sadly, there are estimated to be fewer than 600 tigers left in the wild in Russia.
The overhunting of the tigers’ prey is the biggest problem faced by Russia at the moment. As the number of ungulates and other suitable prey diminishes, the tigers are less and less likely to survive. Poaching is also a matter of extreme concern to the Russian government and the conservation organisations. Habitat loss is another area requiring urgent attention if the lives of these animals are to be preserved.
The Siberian Tiger Project began (under the umbrella of the Wildlife Conservation Society, or WCS) in 1992 in Sikhote-Alin Biosphere Zapovednik. This was a brave move since little was known about tigers at this time.
Today, the Siberian Tiger Project works along with the government to manage the land and its produce for the benefit of the flora and fauna that it sustains. They monitor the existence of nuisance carnivores (who are likely to hog the potential prey and compromise the well-being of the tigers) and relocate these ones as and when necessary.
Their studies of tigers are intensive and thorough; giving them and other researchers a valuable peek into the lives and habits of these creatures. This aids in efforts to protect them as increased understanding means priceless information, which leads to the formulation of effective plans of action.
It is crucial that organisations such as this work together with legal hunters to ensure that the prey of tigers is not being overhunted. It is also essential that they demonstrate absolutely no tolerance towards poaching and poachers. This can lead to outright violence in some areas. The WCS conducts formal poaching patrols to catch illegal hunters before they can claim another tiger’s life. These have been rather effective in decreasing the numbers of poachers in the various areas that are patrolled.
The WCS stresses the importance of collaborating with local stakeholders in order to ensure close bonds. This improves the holistic management of the natural resources as well as of the man-made ones. This is an important part of maintaining optimal relationships, which plays a major role in getting things done on a strategic or political level.
Part of the WCS’s determination to protect tigers is to implement the following:
•Training veterinarians to treat wildlife (including tigers), rather than focussing only on pets and farm animals.
•Providing proper protocols on handling wildlife and collecting samples.
•Creating dedicated wildlife health laboratories.
•Conducting studies to evaluate risk and intervention.