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Prey recov­ery pro­gram for endan­gered Amur tigers and leop­ards suc­cess­ful in China, says WWF

pub­lished 19 May 2013 | mod­i­fied 05 April 2014

Amurtiger sredneussuriiskyThe recent dis­cov­ery of a preyed upon deer is seen as a major sign of progress in the efforts to boost the pop­u­la­tions of endan­gered Amur tigers and Amur leop­ards in China.

The body of the dead sika deer was dis­cov­ered by a ranger of Lan­jia for­est farm, located at the east foot of the Chang­bai Moun­tain, one of WWF’s Tigers Alive Initiative’s land­scapes, in China’s north­east­ern Jilin Province. The deer’s injuries were con­sis­tent with an attack by a large preda­tor, con­ser­va­tion offi­cers said. The find­ing comes two months after some four sika deer were killed by preda­tor from a scene one kilo­me­tre away.

Sika deer chinaThe lat­est vic­tim was among a group of more than 30 captive-​bred red and sika deer that were released in July 2012 by WWF and Wangqing nature reserve admin­is­tra­tion in the hope of restor­ing prey pop­u­la­tion to attract Amur tigers and leop­ards in the Wangqing area. It was con­firmed to belong to the released herd accord­ing to the chip implanted into its ear. The body was barely con­sumed, indi­cat­ing that the preda­tor left the scene, pos­si­bly because of dis­tur­bance, accord­ing to Shi Quan­hua, a WWF Amur Tiger Pro­gramme Offi­cer. A cam­era trap has been set up nearby in order to iden­tify the preda­tor in case it comes back for the prey.

Again, it proves that big cats like tigers or leop­ards do live in Wangqing’s forests and the Wangqing Forestry Bureau has yielded impres­sive results at the demon­stra­tion project of the wild Amur tiger and leop­ard habi­tat ecosystem
Shi Quan­hua, WWF Amur Tiger Pro­gramme Officer »

Mean­while, a large num­ber of feces, hairs and con­stant beds were found on the site prov­ing the spot to be a place fre­quented by a herd of sika deer, which indi­rectly demon­strates that the released sika deer of last year have sur­vived the win­ter. “Despite heavy snows in the pass­ing win­ter, none of the released deer died of cold­ness, hunger or ill­ness, but only by preda­tors,” Shi said.

Amur tigers and leop­ards have been recorded more fre­quently by WWF and the Wangqing Forestry Bureau dur­ing patrolling and mon­i­tor­ing since win­ter. “At Lan­jia for­est farm alone, we have cap­tured pho­tographs and videos over 20 times, which is three times more than those of the last three years. This indi­cates that the prey recov­ery project has made pre­lim­i­nary progress and it has been proved to be very impor­tant for the sur­vival and set­tle­ment of Amur tigers and leop­ards in Wangqing,” says Wang Fuyou, Direc­tor of the Con­ser­va­tion Divi­sion of the Wangqing Forestry Bureau.

“That said the den­sity of sika and red deer in this area is still very low. Through the prey recov­ery project, WWF looks to estab­lish a self-​recovery red and sika deer pop­u­la­tion there, so as to pro­vide suf­fi­cient food for wild Amur tigers and leop­ards as well as to realise their set­tle­ment and repro­duc­tion habi­tat,” said Zhu Jiang, head of WWF North­east China Office.

distribution map amur tiger leopardA WWF-​backed sur­vey shows that the lack of prey is a major hur­dle in sup­port­ing the set­tle­ment of tigers in North­east China. The wild tiger pop­u­la­tion declined from an esti­mated 200 to about 20 today within the past five decades in China. The adja­cent forested habi­tat of the Russ­ian Far East holds a sig­nif­i­cantly larger pop­u­la­tion, between 430500 tigers.
Recent sight­ings show that the pop­u­la­tion is slowly mov­ing across the Chi­nese bor­der and into the country’s Wanda and Chang­bai moun­tains, part of the Wangqing Nature Reserve.

WWF-​China and its part­ners are car­ry­ing out a num­ber of con­ser­va­tion mea­sures to save the Amur tiger. These include help­ing ungu­late pop­u­la­tions such as wild boar and roe deer to recover; stop­ping poach­ing by help­ing local author­i­ties carry out anti-​poaching activ­i­ties; and increas­ing and con­nect­ing pro­tected tiger habi­tats so tigers can safely move from one area to another.

One tiger needs to eat the equiv­a­lent of a medium size deer every week to sur­vive and with­out ade­quate food, the tiger pop­u­la­tion rapidly declines.

The above news item is reprinted from mate­ri­als avail­able at WWF Global. Orig­i­nal text may be edited for con­tent and length.
(Source: WWF Global news, 15.05.2013)

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