China to declare new reserve for Siberian tigers

Wildlife Conservation Society to assist in creating protected area along Russian border

NEW YORK With assistance from the Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), the Chinese government will create a new protected area along its border with Russia in order to safeguard the nations remaining population of endangered Siberian (Amur) tigers and Far Eastern leopards.

The agreement by Chinas Jilin Forestry Department to establish the Jilin Hunchun nature reserve in the region long known as Manchuria, along the border with Russias Primorski Krai (state), comes following the recommendation of WCS biologists who say that the new protected area represents critical habitat for the big cats.

Creation of the Hunchun Tiger-Leopard Reserve represents the beginning of a long-term process of rebuilding tiger populations in China. Surveys in Jilin and Heilongjiang Provinces, co-sponsored and organized by WCS, UNDP, and the forestry departments of Jilin and Heilongjiang, found that tigers hover near extinction. WCS biologist Dr. Dale Miquelle, who helped organize and conduct tiger surveys in China and Russia, said, "There are few tigers left in northeast China, and most of those are animals dispersing from the Russian side of the border. Therefore, the best opportunities to protect tigers in northeast China are along the Russian borders at known crossover points."

"With no evidence of breeding females, and only a handful of scattered individuals, it was clear that the only thing preventing extirpation of tigers in northeast China was the existence of a healthy population of the big cats in nearby Russia," Miquelle added.

At a recent workshop in Harbin China, organized by the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Forestry Department of Heilongjiang, plans for recovery of tigers in China began to take shape.

Gennady Kolonin, representative of the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources, promised cooperation with China

Contact: Stephen Sautner
Wildlife Conservation Society

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