‘We need to start with ourselves’: Experts discuss International Tiger Day 2019 in Moscow

‘We need to start with ourselves’: Experts discuss International Tiger Day 2019 in Moscow

25 July 2019

Moscow hosted a news conference on protecting and preserving the Amur tiger population. Speakers included Sergei Aramilev, general director of the Amur Tiger Centre, Vsevolod Stepanitsky, an expert on Russian protected areas at the Far Eastern Leopards autonomous non-profit organisation, and Sergei Naidenko (DSc in Biology), deputy director for research at the Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution at the Russian Academy of Sciences. The news conference took place ahead of International Tiger Day, celebrated every year on 29 July.


The speakers noted that thanks to the efforts of environmental organisations, including the Amur Tiger Centre and the permanent expedition of the Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution that studies animals in the Russian Red Data Book, there has been progress in restoring the population of the tiger’s largest subspecies. Experts estimate that today there are 600 Amur tigers in Russia.


The experts listed a number of factors that cause the population to decrease. The activity of human beings is the thing that mostly affects these rare cats.


“We need to understand that the tiger is a large predator that is not well adjusted to living alongside humans. We will never restore its population to the level that it was, for example, in the early 20th century,” Sergei Naidenko said.


Sergei Aramilev added that Amur tiger conservation requires proactive efforts against poaching, which affects both big cats and ungulates, the predator’s primary source of food, as well as against illegal tree felling (for instance, oak and cedar) because trees provide food for Manchurian wapitis and boars.


The experts pointed out that human action can also guarantee the preservation of Amur tigers. “Of course, we need to start with ourselves. We have the biggest impact on the tiger population. It is also us who continue to fight people’s poor culture and ignorance,” Vsevolod Stepanitsky said.


According to Sergei Naidenko, representatives of the Russian Academy of Sciences are also studying another crucial problem – diseases among ungulates and cats in the Far East. “African swine fever is a very dangerous disease right now as it may affect boars, tiger’s prey.”


In addition to the challenges for endangered animal protection, the experts noted the importance of International Tiger Day and cooperation with foreign organisations. On behalf of the Amur Tiger Centre, Sergei Aramilev invited members of the public to the Tiger Day festival in Moscow’s Zaryadye Park on 27 July.


International Tiger Day was established in 2010 in St Petersburg during the Tiger Summit. The date was proposed by the 13 countries inhabited by tigers.