Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)
Project Name: Addressing Human-tiger Conflicts in Hunchun County, China
Location: Hunchun County, Jilin Province, China
Goal: At present, human-tiger conflict events in northeast China are handled without coordination or established protocols, resulting in prolonged events that endanger both tigers and villagers, and which build resentment toward tigers among local residents. The conservation outcome of this project is more tigers remaining in the wild, and an improved attitude among local villagers toward tigers, all as a result of efficient and professional responses to human-tiger conflicts.
Objective 1: Hold a technical training session
Objective 2: Conduct public education campaign in local communities
Background: During a tiger conservation conference held in Hunchun, China in August 2016, WCS staff from Russia gave a presentation on human-tiger conflict that summarised findings and lessons learned from 16 years of experience. Following this conference, staff from Hunchun Nature Reserve approached WCS asking for support in the creation and training of their own response team to operate throughout Hunchun County. This is an important development, as it shows true interest from the local government in big cat conservation and meeting the needs of both local residents and of tigers.
In March 2017, the human-tiger conflict mitigation workshop took place in partnership with FBJP in Changchun, Jilin Province. The three-day event was attended by 50 individuals representing 10 organizations, and led by trainers from the WCS Russia office, WCS’ Bronx Zoo, and Wildlife Vets International (UK). Attendees included representatives of FBJP, Jilin Provincial Academy of Forestry Science, Jilin Wildlife Ambulance Breeding Center, the Changchun Plant and Animal Park, Hunchun Nature Reserve, Hunchun Municipal Forestry Bureau, Wangqing Nature Reserve, Wangqing Prefectural Forestry Bureau, Tianqiaoling Forestry Bureau, and Huangnihe Nature Reserve.
As Amur tigers (and Amur leopards) continue to expand into China from source populations in Russia, the number of human-tiger conflict events in northeast China have increased in tandem. It is critical that a Hunchun response team be created as soon as possible and trained regularly so that these conflict events can be responded to quickly and resolutely to minimize risks to human lives and livelihoods and to minimize risks to the big cats themselves.
During 2018, the project will work with county officials, especially the Hunchun Municipal Forestry Bureau, to carry out a public education campaign about tigers for local communities. It is important for residents to understand why tigers (and leopards) are suddenly appearing with greater frequency, and why they should take pride in this. It will also explain catalysts for conflict, such as unsafe animal husbandry practices, and help communities better understand how humans and big cats can share the landscape. This information will be conveyed both via public speaking, community meetings, and distribution of printed material (derived from a Russian pamphlet on sources of conflict).