Researchers study dangerous epizootics for tigers in the Ussuri Nature Reserve

Researchers study dangerous epizootics for tigers in the Ussuri Nature Reserve

11 November 2021

Researchers studied epizootics (animal epidemics) that are dangerous for tigers in the Ussuri Nature Reserve. Specialists from the Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution took blood samples from badgers and raccoon dogs, which make up part of the diet of Amur tigers. They did not find any threats to the wild cats for the time being.


Experts focus on the factors that can affect the Amur tiger population in the reserve. They monitor epidemic developments by regularly taking blood samples from animals to detect pathogens of dangerous diseases.


“Our experts have conducted systematic studies in the Ussuri Nature Reserve since 2010. We take blood samples from small predators to analyse the level of their antibodies to different pathogens, including the canine distemper, rabies and pseudorabies viruses. They also take fur samples for hormone analysis to assess the stress levels of these animals. Experts record the results of laboratory tests on a separate card for each animal. This allows us to keep statistics and observe trends in the occurrence of certain pathogens in different animal species,” said Sergei Naidenko, director of the Severtsov Institute.


Animals are caught in a safe way – with the help of wooden or all-metal trap cages with bait. When an animal enters a cage and steps on the trap, the cage shuts. Experts say badgers prefer all-metal cages, whereas raccoon dogs are attracted by wooden cages. The researchers take biomaterial for tests on the spot, and then release the animals into the wild right away.


“We implement environmental protection initiatives in all major areas in the Ussuri Nature Reserve. Thus, we have security here: two response groups patrol the territory of the reserve. Their task is to curb poaching and extinguish fires. With the coming of winter, we plan to install trail cameras to monitor the reserve’s wild animals, including Amur tigers,” said Viktor Bardyuk, director of Land of the Leopard.

The Komarov Ussuri Nature Reserve is located on 41,234.36 hectares in the Ussuri and Shkotovo districts of the Primorye Territory. It is inhabited by several endangered animals. Amur tigers occupy a special place among them.


The reserve came under the management of Land of the Leopard following a Government directive in 2019. The national park has cooperated with Moscow’s Severtsov Institute for several years, monitoring the physiological condition of its mammals.