Conservation and count of the Amur tiger in the Khabarovsk Territory

Conservation and count of the Amur tiger in the Khabarovsk Territory

21 July 2017

Article by Igor Suslov, Deputy Minister of Natural Resources of the Khabarovsk Territory and Chairman of the Hunting Farm Committee, in the second issue of the Zvezda Priamurya magazine, 2017.

The Amur tiger’s habitat in the Khabarovsk Territory was larger throughout history than it is today: the tiger could also be found in the Lesser Khingan and Vandan mountain ranges, or near the Amgun, Bureya, and Selemdzha rivers. There is no exact data on the tiger’s habitat size in those times, though it supposedly exceeded their present-day home by more than 50 percent.


By the beginning of the 20th century, the population had decreased drastically for reasons still unknown, and by the end of the 1940s, the tiger’s habitat in the Khabarovsk Territory was divided into separate patches with a total area of no more than one million hectares for a population of less than 20 tigers.


Adopting a law which prohibited tiger hunting in 1947 and introducing a ban on catching tiger cubs for zoos in 1952 played an important role in restoring the population. It resulted in the general growth of the population since the 1950s, and in the 1970s the habitat covered a continuous area, as it does now.


In August 1995, the Russian Government adopted Resolution No. 795 On the Conservation of Amur Tigers and Other Rare and Endangered Species and Plants in the Primorye and Khabarovsk Territories, which became the basis for the strategy of Amur tiger conservation in Russia. The positive outcome was clear during the tiger count in 1995-1996, which estimated the population in the Khabarovsk Territory at 64-71 animals.


The Amur tiger counts in the 1970s showed that the increase in the population and the settling of tigers in new areas happened primarily in the northern parts of their former habitat. This was also confirmed by the counts held in the 1980s and the early 1990s. The 2005-2006 count showed that in the beginning of the new century the tiger population stabilised and stood at 71-77 animals in the Khabarovsk Territory.


In 2014-2015, another regular Amur tiger count was held in the Khabarovsk Territory.


For the past 15 years, annual monitoring has been conducted in separate areas in addition to the usual counts.  This local monitoring considers the Amur tiger the only biological indicator of the biodiversity, introduces new count methods using camera traps and studies Amur tiger migrations beyond the existing habitat in order to research the possibility of its expansion and find new possible places to relocate combative animals.


The results showed that the tiger population has grown significantly. The main part of the population lives in the Lazo and Nanaisky municipal districts of the Khabarovsk Territory.


According to the 2015 count, there are 100-109 Amur tigers, including 20-30 cubs, living in the Khabarovsk Territory.


At the same time, the population’s growth and its settling in the north are the result of measures aimed at preserving the Amur tiger, as well as conserving its food sources and habitat. These included joint efforts of federal and regional state agencies, as well as public organisations; implemented were measures to protect the Amur tiger in 2010-2015, approved by the Khabarovsk Territory Governor’s Resolution No. 38 of 6 March 2010, and the action plan for the preservation of the Amur tiger for 2016−2020, approved by the Governor’s directive No. 412-r of 21 August 2015.


Hunting farm and environmental protection committees of the Khabarovsk Territory’s Ministry of Natural Resources, as well as the local ministries of education, science and culture, the Service for Wildlife Protection and Protected Areas of the Khabarovsk Territory, the forestry service, the Integrated Directorate of the State Nature Reserves and National Parks of the Khabarovsk Territory, the Russian Ministry of the Interior Directorate for the Khabarovsk Territory, hunting farm managers and public organisations are jointly carrying out  the measures set out by the action plan to implement the high-priority measures to protect the Amur tiger defined by the strategy of Amur tiger conservation in the Russian Federation, approved by the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment’s directive No. 25-r of 2 July 2010.


The action plan aims to preserve a stable population of Amur tigers in the Khabarovsk Territory.