PROJECT UPDATE: Getting SMART helps increase tiger numbers
In February 2015, the national census of Amur tigers and leopards was organised by the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and affiliated agencies. According to the census about 480-540 Amur tigers now live in the Russian Far East, an increase of 10% in a decade.
“The rise in the tiger count is very encouraging and correlates directly with improved monitoring,” says Director of the TigerTime funded Phoenix Fund, Sergei Bereznuk. “Adequate protection of core areas has helped increases in prey and tiger densities, both inside and outside of protected areas. And we would like to express our gratitude to DSWF and its supporters for their continued support of the SMART programme and other activities aimed at Amur tiger conservation.”
SMART (Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool) has helped the Phoenix Fund achieve considerable success in improving anti-poaching efforts in Amur tiger habitat through a comprehensive, law enforcement monitoring programme. The management tool has proved useful for improving patrol quality, providing managers with the opportunity to measure patrol efforts, understand what types of patrols and teams are most effective, and providing clues as to how to improve patrol performance.
“The measurements also show inspectors that their work is important and helps create pride in their work,” adds Sergei. “As we provide bonuses to reward the patrol teams that perform well, it helps create healthy competition resulting in a continuous step-by-step improvement of performance. “
With support from DSWF and TigerTime, the Phoenix Fund launched the SMART anti-poaching programme in December 2010 at two sites adding two more in June 2011 and to a fifth site in 2013. It is hoped that it will be rolled out to Bolshekhekhtsirsky Reserve this year and Annuisky National Park in 2016.
“Our programme’s initial focus has been on improving protection in federally protected areas in Amur tiger habitat. These areas are especially important because they provide core breeding habitat,” says Sergei.
Without the monitoring systems in place the team would have no idea what was happening regarding tiger populations or law enforcement.
The team are now planning to expand the use of SMART patrol monitoring and adaptive patrol management to more sites and hope that in the long-term SMART will become a standard method in Russia for both patrol management by protected areas as well as by agencies operating outside protected areas. With this technology and TigerTime supporters continued help the future of the Amur tiger looks more and more positive.