US wildlife experts visit Primorye to learn about human-predator conflict resolution

US wildlife experts visit Primorye to learn about human-predator conflict resolution

13 May 2015

Representatives of US wildlife protection organisations have visited the Sikhote-Alin Nature Reserve and Land of the Leopard National Park as part of the Eurasia Foundation's programme for sharing social experience and knowledge. The focus of the visit was on preventing and resolving conflicts between humans and large predators.


First, the guests visited the Sikhote-Alin Nature Reserve, the largest Amur tiger habitat in the world. Employees of the reserve briefed their US colleagues on the Amur tiger and the various conflicts that can occur between this big cat and humans. They also shared their experience of working with the local population and improving attitudes towards the Amur tiger. Although US wildlife experts generally deal with wolves and bears, they were eager to hear what their Russian counterparts had to say. "The experience of our colleagues is always interesting. But practical application of that knowledge is what's most important. We are planning to compile an information booklet based on the two trips [to the US and to Russia] that contains tips for people living near tiger habitats, particularly rural villagers, because they encounter this predator more often than anyone. We need to make the booklet as interesting as possible in order to raise public awareness and to provide information of vital importance. The lives of humans and tigers depend on humans acting the right way in conflict situations. We believe that it's more effective to work with people, to change their behaviour and attitude towards the predator, rather than try and modify the behaviour of the animal which is always unpredictable," said Dmitry Gorshkov, Director of the Sikhote-Alin Nature Reserve.


The American guests next visited Land of the Leopard National Park, whose staff has to contend with the hostility of locals towards these rare wild cats that sometimes attack domestic animals and cattle. National park employees discussed various ways to resolve such conflicts with their US counterparts. "Experience sharing has shown that the right tactics to use in order to resolve conflict situations between humans and animals depend on numerous factors. It wasn't possible to formulate a joint concept for dealing with conflict situations, but it became clear that cooperation, primarily with the local population, is the main guarantee of success," said Yelena Salmanova, Deputy Director of Land of the Leopard National Park, adding that educating the local population and enlisting its support is the quickest and most effective way to resolve conflicts involving wild animals.


In late March 2015, experts from several nature reserves of Russia's Far East visited Montana and Wyoming in the United States as part of the Eurasia Foundation's programme and learned about their US colleagues' experience with resolving conflicts between humans and large predators at local nature reserves and national parks. The follow-up visit by US researchers to the Primorye Territory was part of that exchange.