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The Siberian tiger (Panthera tigrisaltaica), also known as the Amur tiger, is a tiger subspecies inhabiting mainly the Sikhote Alin mountain region with a small subpopulation in southwest Primorye province in the Russian Far East. In 2005, there were 331–393 adult-subadult Amur tigers in this region, with a breeding adult population of about 250 individuals. The population has been stable for more than a decade due to intensive conservation efforts, but partial surveys conducted after 2005 indicate that the Russian tiger population is declining.
The Siberian tiger is the largest living felid and ranks among the biggest felids that ever existed.
Phylogeographic analysis with extant tiger subspecies suggests that less than 10,000 years ago the ancestor of Amur and Caspian tigers colonized Central Asia via the Gansu−Silk Road corridor from eastern China then subsequently traversed Siberia eastward to establish the Amur tiger population in the Russian Far East.
The Siberian tiger is reddish-rusty or rusty-yellow in colour, with narrow black transverse stripes. The body length is not less than 150 cm (60 in), condylobasal length of skull 250 mm (10 in), zygomatic width 180 mm (7 in), and length of upper carnassial tooth over 26 mm (1 in) long. It has an extended supple body standing on rather short legs with a fairly long tail. It is typically 5–10 cm (2–4 in) taller than the Bengal tiger, which is about 107–110 cm (42–43 in) tall.
A broad genetic sampling of 95 wild Russian tigers found markedly lowgenetic diversity, with the effective population size extraordinarily low in comparison to the census population size, with the population behaving as if it were just 27–35 individuals. Further exacerbating the problem is that more than 90% of the population occurs in the Sikhote Alin mountain region, and there is little movement of tigers across the development corridor, which separates this sub-population from the much smaller sub-population found in southwest Primorye province.
The winter of 2006–2007 was marked by heavy poaching. Poaching of tigers and their wild prey species is considered to be driving the decline, although heavy snows in the winter of 2009 could have biased the data.
Threats in the past
In the early years of the Russian Civil War, both Red and White armies based in Vladivostok nearly wiped out the local Siberian tigers. In 1935, when the Manchurian Chinese were driven back across the Amur and the Ussuri, the tigers had already withdrawn from their northern and western range. The few that remained in the East Manchurian mountains were cut off from the main population by the building of railroads. Within a few years, the last viable Siberian tiger population in Russia was confined toUssuriland. Legal tiger hunting within the Soviet Union would continue until 1947 when it was officially prohibited. In the mid 1980s, it was estimated that the Siberian tiger population consisted of approximately 250 animals. In 1987, law and order almost entirely broke down due to the impending dissolution of the Soviet Union. Subsequent illegal deforestation and bribery of park rangers made the poaching of Siberian tigers easier, once again putting the subspecies at risk from extinction.
Decades of development and war have destroyed the population in Korea. Heat sensing camera traps set up in the Demilitarized Zone in South Korea did not record any tigers.
Tigers are included on CITES Appendix I, banning international trade. All tiger range states and countries with consumer markets have banned domestic trade as well. At the 14th Conference of the Parties toCITES in 2007, stronger enforcement measures were called for, as well as an end to tiger farming.
In 1992, the Siberian Tiger Project was founded, with the aim of providing a comprehensive picture of the ecology of the Amur tiger and the role of tigers in the Russian Far East through scientific studies. By capturing and outfitting tigers with radio collars, their social structure, land use patterns, food habits, reproduction, mortality patterns and their relation with other inhabitants of the ecosystem, including humans is studied. These data compilations will hopefully contribute toward minimizing poaching threats due to traditional hunting. The Siberian Tiger Project has been productive in increasing local capacity to address human-tiger conflict with a Tiger Response Team, part of the Russian government’s Inspection Tiger, which responds to all tiger-human conflicts; by continuing to enhance the large database on tiger ecology and conservation with the goal of creating a comprehensive Siberian tiger conservation plan; and training the next generation of Russian conservation biologists.
In August 2010, China and Russia agreed to enhance conservation and cooperation in protected areas in a transboundary area for Amur tigers. China has undertaken a series of public awareness campaigns including celebration of the first Global Tiger Day in July 2010, and International Forum on Tiger Conservation and Tiger Culture and China 2010 Hunchun Amur Tiger Culture Festival in August 2010.
In December 2010, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS Russia) and Phoenix Fund initiated a project in co-operation with the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) to improve the protection of tigers and prey species in four key-protected areas, namely Lavovsky Nature Reserve, Sikhote Alin Nature Reserve, Zov Tigra National Park and Kedrovaya Pad - Leopardovii Protected Area. The project consists of the following components: 1) monitoring patrol routes and law enforcement results with the patrol monitoring system MIST which is based on GIS-technique, 2) support for patrol teams (fuel, spare parts, maintenance for vehicles and ranger outfits) and 3) bonuses for patrol teams that perform well. The first project results indicate a success. Patrol efforts (measured by total time spent on patrols and distance of foot patrols) in the two protected areas where the project started first (Kedrovaya Pad - Leopardovii and Lazovsky protected areas) have increased substantially. This was established by comparing the patrol data of the 1st quarter of 2011 with the 1st quarter of 2012. Patrol law enforcement results (confiscated fire arms, citations for poaching and other violations as well as fines) have also increased markedly (this was established by comparing the results of the two protected areas in 2011 to previous years).
In 2010, Russia exchanged two captive Amur tigers for Persian Leopards with the Iran government, as conservation groups of both countries have agreed on restocking these animals back into the wild within the next 5 years. Some experts, however, doubt the plan as they feel that this is a political publicity exercise. On December 30, 2010, one of the tigers exchanged died in Eram Zoo in Tehran.
Inspired by recent findings that the Amur tiger is the closest relative of the Caspian tiger, discussions started if the Amur tiger could be an appropriate subspecies for reintroduction into a safe place in Central Asia. The Amu-Darya Delta was suggested as a potential site for such a project. A feasibility study was initiated to investigate if the area is suitable and if such an initiative would receive support from relevant decision makers. A viable tiger population of about 100 animals would require at least 5,000 ha (19 sq mi) of large tracts of contiguous habitat with rich prey populations. Such habitat is not available at this stage and can not be provided in the short term. The proposed region is therefore unsuitable for the reintroduction, at least at this stage of developments.
I hope you enjoyed this post and please feel free to comment if you know of ways to help them maintain their existence on this planet. Thank You
Reference by Wikipedia