Russia-China online conference on protecting Amur tigers and Far Eastern leopards

Russia-China online conference on protecting Amur tigers and Far Eastern leopards

5 December 2022

The online conference on protecting cross-border populations of Amur tigers and Far Eastern leopards took place at the initiative of the government of Jilin Province of the People’s Republic of China. The conference was attended by representatives of government bodies and experts from Russia and China.


The south of the Far East and the northeast of China is a common territory for the animals of that region. Experts believe that researchers, environmentalists and the authorities of the two countries should also have a common approach to the protection and buildup of the rare predators’ cross-border population.


At present, most of Russia’s Amur tigers – at least 600 animals – live in the Primorye Territory. According to the latest comprehensive census, overall Russia has at least 750 tigers, including cubs. President of Russia Vladimir Putin cited these figures at the Second International Tiger Forum.


According to Chinese experts, there are about 100 tigers and around 120 leopards in China. Russian experts believe the Chinese populations of these predators are mostly cross-border and the population level is largely sustained by animals coming from Russia.


Minister of Forestry and Wildlife Protection of the Primorye Territory Konstantin Stepanov noted that it would be no exaggeration to speak about outstanding success in protecting and preserving tigers and leopards. He recalled that their population has considerably increased over the past 20 years. Tigers and leopards are the acme of biocenosis and their number points to the condition of the region’s ecosystem.


Director of the Jilin Province International Cooperation Department Li Yansheng spoke about the importance of continued bilateral cooperation between specialists, including exchange of data, and joint patrolling of the predators’ habitat, as well as a common environmental policy on supervising the epidemiological situation and the fodder base and practicing zero tolerance to poachers on both sides. He said that owing to all these measures, tigers and leopards were no longer on the brink of extinction.


Russian experts told their Chinese colleagues how they had reached the set goals on protecting Amur tigers and Far Eastern leopards.


“To preserve tigers, we are addressing a whole range of tasks, the main one of which is to protect the entire ecosystem of these predators. This task is not limited to protecting wildlife. It is also necessary to create the right conditions so that local people who live by hunting are encouraged to care for the environment and rule out poaching. It is very important that the protection of tigers and leopards is a priority for our state. This is bearing fruit, as the considerable growth of their population shows,” said General Director of the Amur Tiger Centre Sergei Aramilev. He added that at present, Russia had established an efficient system for protecting Amur tigers, their food resources and habitat.


He also believes that the toughening of penalties for poaching and smuggling endangered animals has helped tangibly reduce these crimes.


“According to expert estimates, just a decade ago, poachers killed 50-70 tigers every year. Now this figure is 10-15 animals. We are seeing that the adopted measures are producing results and we will intensify our work in this area,” he emphasised.


First Deputy Minister of Forestry and Wildlife Protection of the Primorye Territory Alexei Surovy reported on the efforts to detect hunting offences and crimes. Director of Land of Leopard National Park Viktor Bardyuk described measures     to preserve and increase the Far Eastern leopard population and the results that had been achieved.


During the conference, Russian experts said that the Primorye Territory government was in charge of 11 territorial nature sanctuaries and one nature park. Amur tigers live in ten of them and Far Eastern leopards in two. The aggregate area of these specially protected territories (SPT) amounts to 467,391.6 hectares. Protection and preservation of wildlife in the Primorye Territory is a responsibility of the Department for the Protection of Wildlife and SPTs of the region’s Forestry Ministry and the Territorial Directorate on Wildlife Protection and SPTs.


Chinese representatives also spoke about their tangible efforts to protect the cross-border tiger and leopard populations. They described Northeastern Tiger and Leopard National Park that they established on the border with the Primorye Territory in 2015. It spans two provinces – Jilin and Heilongjiang.


The fact that the conference was held at this level emphasised the importance of continued cooperation in saving the tiger and leopard populations. The meeting concluded with a discussion on the formation of a permanent working group for the prompt resolution of problems requiring bilateral involvement.