Tigers in the Russian Far East

DSWF has been funding protection programmes for Russia’s rare Amur tigers for over 20 years.

The decline of the Amur tiger

The collapse of the Soviet Union coupled with illegal logging and poaching to feed the black market has put incredible pressure on the Amur tiger –  now endangered it is the largest of the five remaining tiger subspecies.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the subsequent relaxation of border controls and opening trade routes, the Russian Far East has become a major source of illegal wildlife products to satisfy the consumer markets across the border, especially in China. By the winter of 1993, officials estimated that 60 rare Amur tigers were being poached each year and that numbers had crashed to fewer than 100, due to a loss of habitat and prey base and poaching.

DSWF immediately responded to the crisis helping to save the Amur tiger from certain extinction. And, since 1994, has been jointly funding anti-poaching activities, which are now run by local Russian NGO The Phoenix Fund.

What we do to protect the Amur tiger

Today, from its base in Vladivostok, The Phoenix Fund supports professionally trained and well-equipped anti-poaching teams who patrol five protected areas (core tiger breeding sites), namely Sikhote-Alinsky Biosphere Nature Reserve, Ussuriisky Nature Reserve, Land of the Leopard National Park and United Direction of Lazovsky Nature Reserve and Zov Tigra National Park and investigate smuggling and conflict tiger cases. By the project’s tenth anniversary, the wild tiger population had climbed back to a sustainable level of almost 540 where it remains today.

DSWF supports anti-poaching operations with vital equipment such as snow mobiles, radios, jeeps, fuel and rations and paying informants. Funding also supports a strong and growing educational awareness programme, community work, environmental workshops and training programmes. The Phoenix Fund has been running the education programme with DSWF support for 13 years reaching about 40,000-45,000 children.

Key to raising awareness for the Amur tiger is ‘Tiger Day’. Held on the last weekend in September, what began as a small, local event in Vladivostok in 2000, has grown into one which brings thousands of people, from children to high-level officials, together worldwide in solidarity for the protection of the tiger.

“I have never seen such tremendous determination against seemingly insurmountable odds. I was overwhelmed by the dedication and motivation of the DSWF funded anti-poaching patrol teams – who live in very rough conditions and are regularly attacked by poachers. They are responsible for patrolling an area the size of Britain and yet have reduced the level of tiger poaching by half,” Mark Carwardine, zoologist and DSWF Honorary Vice President.

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Did you know?

Every tiger has a different stripe pattern