NEW YORK (Feb. 6) -- A remote camera clicked the first known photograph of a wild Siberian or Amur tiger in northern China last week, providing strong evidence that tigers are crossing from the Russian Far East to repopulate previous tiger strongholds, the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) announced today.
The tiger was photographed in Jilin Province's Hunchun Nature Reserve, which WCS helped establish in 2001. Working in partnership with WCS, staff members at the reserve set up the camera-trap after a local farmer reported that a predator killed a mule. The next day, they retrieved the film and discovered the image of an adult tiger feeding on the carcass.
The reserve, on the western side of the border between Russia and China, provides a corridor of habitat so tigers can disperse from Russia and repopulate areas of China where they once lived. Poaching of tigers for traditional Chinese medicine, along with over-hunting of their prey species, wiped out populations in China. Yet much of their habitat remained intact. With increased enforcement of hunting laws, WCS scientists were confident that tigers would return.
"The photo of a wild tiger in Hunchun Nature Reserve represents not only the reserve's recent progress, but also a bright beginning for Amur tiger conservation in the future," said Dr. Endi Zang, of The Wildlife Conservation Society.
This May, The Wildlife Conservation Society will open "Tiger Mountain," a spectacular three-acre, interactive tiger exhibit that links zoo visitors with field conservation efforts, including those in China and the Russian Far East.