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Striped forecast: there will be more tigers in the Far East
Scientists say the growth of the Amur tiger in the Far Eastern Federal District and new threats to it
The Amur tiger, which is listed in the Red Book of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, is not threatened with extinction in the Far East. Scientists say that by 2022 its population will grow from 580 to 700 individuals. However, the question of food arises: is there enough food supply for the predator and the territory where he can live peacefully?
IN MATHEMATICAL PROGRESSION
In the nineteenth century, there were about one thousand Amur tigers in Russia, but at the beginning of the twentieth century, the number decreased by 33 times. By 1930, only 30 individuals remained in Russia. The hunters exterminated them for the sake of trophies, skins and other parts that are especially appreciated in the Chinese market. In the mid-1990th century, the state banned hunting for Amur tigers. By 400, the population grew to 2004 individuals, and in 2005-450 - to 2015 individuals. In 540, at least XNUMX Amur tigers lived in the Russian Far East.
95% of the world population of the Amur tiger is concentrated in the Primorsky and Khabarovsk territories, the Amur Region and the Jewish Autonomous Region. About 5% live in China and North Korea. The population of the Amur tiger in Russia is stable, the last five years has a tendency to increase and is now estimated at 580-600 individuals. Experts believe that while maintaining the current dynamics, it will reach 700 individuals by 2022
“The forecast for the population size was derived by mathematical analysis. The Amur tiger was recorded in 2014-2015, then we got fixed numbers - the population in Russia was estimated at 540 individuals. After that, every year, traces in the snow were monitored using automatic cameras. This work differs from accounting in that it is carried out from year to year on sample sites, more than 25% of the tiger range is covered. The data that we receive in this area allows us to make predictions. To help us - modern technologies of artificial intelligence, which made it possible, using the data of previous surveys, receiving the latest monitoring data, to predict how many Amur tigers are in Russia now. According to the computer algorithm, experts believe that now there are 580-600 individuals, ”said Sergei Aramilev, director of the Amur Tiger Center.
The forecast for an increase in the population to 700 individuals was made, provided that the situation with favorable conditions for the tiger continued. However, there are potential new threats, such as African swine fever. If the situation develops in a different scenario, the number of tigers will be slightly different.
Pavel Fomenko, Honorary Worker of Conservation of the Russian Federation, agrees with the mathematical forecast.
“This conclusion about the current situation is based on expert assessment. My personal assessment and that of our organization practically coincide with the opinion of the Amur Tiger ANO, although we understand that it is desirable to make a complete inventory, ”the expert noted.
According to him, the forecast of 700 individuals by 2022 can be reached under optimal conditions for the animal. One of the problems is the condition of the feed resources of the Amur tiger, primarily boar. African swine fever captured several areas of the Primorsky Territory, was in the Khabarovsk Territory.
“In the central regions of Sikhote-Alin, in the habitats of the Amur tiger, wild boar ranks first. If this species disappears from the diet, other species do not replace it, then we will have 500 angry and hungry tigers, ”the expert added.
Reliably, the number of Amur tigers is determined by scientists according to a complete inventory that will cover the entire range of the predator. This large-scale study was last held in Russia in 2014-2015. Then the experts determined that the population reaches up to 540 individuals. New accounting is planned for the winter of 2021-2022.
“Experts have come to a consolidated opinion that it will be optimal to keep records in 2021-2022 so that Russia has fresh data on the number of tigers in nature for the summit, which is planned to be held in 2022 at the level of heads of government of the tiger range countries. The first such summit was held in 2010, ”said Sergei Aramilev.
As part of a complete inventory, scientists intend to clarify the total number of the population, to clarify whether the habitat of tigers, the sex and age structure of the population, the level of reproduction, and mortality have not changed. They will also assess the state of habitats, food supply and the impact of human activity on tigers. All of these will make it possible to establish how effective the measures are for preserving the rare predator.
COURSE TO CHINA
The state strategy for the conservation of the Amur tiger in Russia states that 500-600 adult individuals should live in the country, and 700 with the tiger cubs in mind. It is believed that in this case the predator will reach the level of a self-regulating population.
“The tiger is a tropical animal that was cut off from the main part of its range 700 thousand years ago and lives on the limit of its northern distribution. You can draw an analogy with the residence of people beyond the Arctic Circle. Therefore, we will never have many tigers. When tigers reach their optimal abundance, and in some parts of the range they have already done this (Primorsky Territory, Khabarovsk Territory, in some parts of the Jewish Autonomous Region), they will begin to self-regulate themselves - predators will increase the percentage of natural death, they will attack each other, destroy their offspring. At the same time, the biology of the tiger is such that it will never undermine its food supply - the number of ungulates. This is his most important difference from the wolf. The tiger will better expand the hunting area, but it will never make the ungulates in the forest end through its fault, ”notes Sergey Aramilev.
According to the expert, one should not expect any consequences from an increase in the number of tigers. If the forecast is true, and the number of tigers increases, it will mean that people have learned to live in harmony with nature and rationally use its restored resources. And WWF expert Pavel Fomenko notes that for the comfortable existence of an increasing population, it is necessary to provide the tiger with access to China.
“700 individuals are the level stated in the strategy. In fact, in two years we can reach the level of this strategy. It is believed that in this case we will reach the level of a self-regulating population. There will be no more or less tigers. We must balance that the tigers are there, but their conflict does not increase. This is due to the territories where he will dwell. We hope that it will populate the northern territories of the historical range, including China. This is necessary to provide him with guarantees of survival, ”the expert explained.
According to him, China is ready to accept tigers, the country has a state program and good forests. At the same time, a whole network of nature reserves was created in the PRC on the border with the Russian Federation.
TIGERS AND HUNTERS
Russian Minister of Justice Konstantin Chuychenko noted that they managed to stabilize the tiger population and allow it to grow thanks to a systematic approach to organizing the protection of the Amur tiger. The measures taken will be developed this year. So, in Ussuriysk, Primorsky Krai, they will build a central office for hunting supervision, which will become a single point of monitoring and control in the tiger range.
Pavel Fomenko, Head of the WWF Russia Amur Branch for the Conservation of Rare Species, emphasized the importance of the work of hunting users. Only 20% of the Russian range are in specially protected natural areas: nature reserves, national parks, and nature reserves. A special protection regime is established there and animals, including the Amur tiger, can feel safe. The remaining 80% are hunting grounds, where Amur tigers have to compete with hunters for ungulates.
“We understand that reserves and national parks will not save a tiger or a leopard, it is less than 20% of their habitat. Everything else is hunting users. They managed to establish a great job. They have a whole network of respectable and tiger-friendly territories, where a compromise has been found between hunting and keeping rare species. There are hunting farms where the number of tigers has grown by orders of magnitude. For example, a hunting farm on top of a large Ussurka. When we started working with him, there were only four tigers. Now, according to the latest counts, there are 15 of them. This is the work of hunting users, ”Fomenko said.
The number of tigers has never been an end in itself, says Sergei Aramilev, director of the Amur Tiger Center. According to him, it is more important to preserve the unique nature of the Far East.
“The work to conserve nature needs to be measured in some way. The most optimal indicator of its condition is the presence or absence of the Amur tiger, because it is easier to calculate. We believe that the efforts that the state puts into harmonizing between economic aspirations and nature have an impact, and by 2022 a unique natural complex will be preserved in the same form that will allow 700 tigers to live, ”Aramilev noted.