WCS China

Amur Tiger

The Amur Tiger is a Class I Protected Species under China’s national legislation, CITES Appendix I. They carry the sign of a healthy ecological system. So far the wild population in Russia Far East is less than 500 and in southeastern of China is about 20. This small population is the biggest hope for tiger recovery in China, through effectively control poaching and reduce disturbance in their core habitat .

With a global population of fewer than 3,600 individuals (GTRP 2010) clinging to existence in a mere 7% of their historic range (Sanderson et al. 2010), the tiger (Panthera tigris) is one of the most endangered large cats in the world. Northeastern China is a critically important landscape for the global conservation of tigers (Sanderson et al. 2010), has experienced a steady increase in records of tiger presence and activity over the past few years, and the recent photographic captures of tigers in Hunchun Nature Reserve are positive, if circumstantial, signs of the slow but steady recovery of the tiger in the region. Although as few as 20 tigers currently reside in China, estimates suggest there remains enough suitable habitat to support 100 tigers, if appropriate action is taken to protect tigers and their prey.

Despite a total ban on the commercial trade of wild tiger parts, endangered status in the IUCN’s Red List, and classification as a Class I Endangered Species in China (and therefore subject to the highest level of protection), tigers remain vulnerable to a host of threats in China, including habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation, poaching, and human-wildlife conflict. Of these threats, poaching and an increase in human-tiger conflict facilitated by the illegal grazing of livestock within nature reserves, represent the greatest direct threats to tigers in China. Since the mid 1990’s, the Wildlife Conservation Society has been working with numerous provincial departments and local agencies to mitigate these threats by strengthening law enforcement, reducing direct threats to tigers and prey populations through the removal of snares, and establishing a scientifically rigorous monitoring method to assess the recovery of the tiger in China.

Ending poaching and the illegal grazing of livestock in protected areas requires effective law enforcement. To this end, the Wildlife Conservation Society has provided both technical support and equipment to six enforcement agencies, initiated monitoring and patrolling activities that use Geographic Information System technology to monitor the effectiveness of anti-poaching measures, and is in the initial stages of implementing a performance-based incentives program to reward effective anti-poaching activities.

Poaching is a threat to all wildlife, but is particularly insidious because it affects tigers directly by killing them, and indirectly, by killing their prey. In China, poaching is primarily conducted using wire snares, which are easy and cheap to fashion. In 2001, The Wildlife Conservation Society initiated a campaign to remove snares within and adjacent to the Hunchun Nature Reserve. To date, this campaign has involved 15 local partners and removed more than 8,000 snares from the forest, ultimately saving untold numbers of tigers and other wildlife.

To judge the efficacy of conservation activities such as improved law enforcement and snare removal, the Wildlife Conservation Society is using scientifically rigorous methods to continue monitoring tigers and other wildlife in northeastern China. The Wildlife Conservation Society has donated camera traps and trained local staff to implement track and camera-trap surveys, which have indicated the presence of tigers, and the critically endangered leopard, within the Hunchun Nature Reserve. Future monitoring will integrate these two methods with DNA analyses to acquire a more complete understanding of tiger population status and distribution.

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WCS China Northeast Project
Xiaokang Building A4, Zhanqian East Street, Hunchun, Jilin Province, 133300, China
+86 (0) 433 7569 745