Location: Primorye, Russia
Goal: To reduce loss of wild tigers from the wild by mitigating human-tiger conflicts
Objective 1: Continue supporting government agencies to mitigate conflicts (annually, as needed).
Objective 2: Use GPS tracking and field checks to monitor the fate of six rehabilitated cubs released back into the wild.
Objective 3: Use camera traps and snow-tracking at three release sites to assess the physical condition of rehabilitated cubs and learn of other sympatric tigers and wildlife.
Background: The Wildlife Conservation Society’s Russia Program has been a primary force conducting tiger and leopard monitoring in the Russian Far East, and our program includes the world’s longest ongoing tiger research project. We have gathered data on the largely hidden lives of Amur tigers by capturing and radio-collaring more than 60 of the animals since 1992, and our system of evaluating the source of a tiger conflict and resolving it quickly and efficiently has resulted in dozens of tigers remaining in the wild. Prior to our engagement, the standard response to tigers that come into conflict with humans was simply to remove them. As many conflicts arise when a dispersing sub-adult tiger happens upon a human settlement and lingers there to prey on dogs and livestock, their removal from the wild prevents these young animals from breeding and thereby contributing to tiger population recovery. Other conflicts arise when a tiger is temporarily injured or sick, and short-term predation on domestic animals gets them through a tough period. If not removed from the wild, these animals also have the potential to contribute to the recovery of the tiger population. In yet other situations, rescue and rehabilitation of very young cubs orphaned when mothers are poached (or die from other causes) provide an opportunity to return such individuals to the existing population, or use them for restoring tigers in habitats formerly lost.