New funding will increase protection for precious Amur tigers
New funding from DSWF is being used to resolve two major access issues currently affecting conservation of the rare Amur tiger in the Primorsky krai region of the Russian Far East.
Working closely with Russian NGO the Phoenix Fund, specialists from the Sikhote-Alin Biosphere Nature Reserve and the Wildlife Conservation Society, DSWF funding will support the dismantling and rewilding of logging roads in Terney District and, further north, help clear vital anti-poaching routes made impassable by the worst typhoon to have hit the area in over 40 years. The aim: to protect and stabilize numbers of these rare big cats and their prey and to help resume key Amur tiger monitoring and anti-poaching patrols.
Dismantling abandoned logging roads
Prime habitat for the Amur tiger, the richly forested region of Terney has been subject to wide-spread logging operations which have created an extensive network of unofficial roads with uncontrolled public access.
“Logging roads have increased exponentially in Terney from an estimated 228km in 1984 to over 6278km in 2014,” explains DSWF CEO, Oliver Smith. “These unofficial roads – that are no longer used by the logging companies – are open to the public and, with little capacity to monitor and control this access, the risk of forest fires, illegal logging and poaching create a very real threat to the survival of tigers and other wildlife in the area.”
Efforts to dismantle these roads have already begun and the additional funding will help establish a working group to prioritize work on the road closures throughout 2017.
“This development is a tremendously important step towards reducing the vulnerability of tigers and the unique wildlife and natural places outside of protected areas,” says Oliver Smith.
Clearing typhoon damaged roads
On 31st August, typhoon Lionrock, the worst typhoon to hit the Primorsky krai region in 40 years, caused extensive flooding. Hundreds of rural homes were destroyed, several bridges and highways were damaged and fallen trees blocked many forest roads. During September and October teams struggled to clear the roads of fallen trees and debris as they hurried to restore access to important guard posts and patrol routes within the Sikhote-Alin Nature Reserve which is home to at least 30 Amur tigers.
“Sadly, funding was not available to adequately maintain the forest roads that law-enforcement teams and tiger monitoring specialists use for their work.To ensure proper anti-poaching protection these roads must be in a drivable condition for patrol staff,” adds Oliver.
November’s first snowfall and a lack of finance stopped the current programme but, with the DSWF funding and additional volunteers, the road maintenance and improvements will now be completed in the spring enabling a full programme of anti-poaching patrols to resume.
“DSWF has been working to protect Russia’s Amur tigers since the 1990s when rampant poaching reduced their numbers to as few as 100. Now, with a healthier but still hugely vulnerable population of about 450 tigers, we are determined to do all that we can to create protected, wild habitats for the survival of these extraordinary forest dwelling cats,” says Oliver.
The new funding will:
· Help dismantle abandoned logging roads
· Reduce illegal logging
· Reduce poaching and human disturbance
· Clear important forest roads
· Restore access to guarding posts
· Help fully resume Amur tiger monitoring work and anti-poaching patrols in Sikhote-Alin Nature Reserve
· Develop a handbook with safety instructions for on-site staff
· Stabilise number of tigers and prey species.
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