Tigers in China face the ever-present threat of being killed illegally for their perceived medicinal value. Almost every part of their body is believed to have some healing value in the Chinese culture. In addition, those using such medicine prefer, according to formal surveys, the products cultivated from wild tigers to those from farmed ones. Of the total number of people interviewed for one survey, 43% testified to having used tiger products. Of these, 90% had used such products since there becoming illegal in 1993. 71% of the consumers preferred goods from wild tigers.
This has enormous implications as it means that, despite all efforts, wild tigers are facing the constant and very real threat of extinction at the hands of human beings.
Wild Amur Tiger Protection is a Chinese organisation that is made up of the Northeast China Program Office of WWF-China, Jilin Forestry Department, Wangqing Forestry Bureau of Jilin Province and the Hunchun National Amur Tiger Nature Reserve Administration Bureau in Jilin. This team recently received an award from the World Wildlife Foundation for its successful efforts to protect tigers in the country’s northeast region of Amur-Heilong.
The WWF awarded the Wild Amur Tiger Protection group for "Best Law Enforcement Monitoring Effort". They were recognised for their patrolling and monitoring of tigers and their territories to ensure that poachers were being kept at bay. This is essential. The Amur tigers were listed as being first class protected species in 1977, but their numbers have dwindled alarmingly since then.
The Tigers Alive Initiative Awards were established in 2011, and motivate various organisations to get more involved in the active protection of tigers. This requires dedication, expertise and funding. These awards are included under the main Zero Poaching Campaign. As its name implies, this is aimed at stopping poachers in their tracks, so to speak.
WWF-China is very involved with tiger protection initiatives. They have orchestrated extensive patrolling efforts and have implemented and supported the development of important database software.
The entire province of Jilin has expressed its dedication to the conservation of tigers by signing an agreement with Russia that enables a cross-boundary protection network for the Amur tigers. This means that these two nations will share relevant information regarding progress, concerns and challenges faced in their respective conservation efforts.
As China stood as of 2011, the following important steps needed to be taken in order to prevent complete extinction of the tiger:
•The various tiger territories have been broken up by urban development, industrialisation and deforestation. As a result, tigers have almost no contact with one another (which prevents reproduction). Therefore, it is imperative that these fragmented areas are connected by tracts of ecologically sound land through which the tigers can access one another.
•Poaching remains a major concern. Patrolling and other anti-poaching efforts cannot be underestimated.
•Various states and countries need to cooperate with one another to protect the tigers that live across their borders.
•Logging needs to be reduced and managed more effectively and responsibly.
•Protect the tigers’ prey so that these hunters have sufficient food on which to survive.