MOSCOW, July 15 (RIA Novosti) - The World Wildlife Fund for Nature has opened the first center for studying and protecting the endangered Amur tiger in northwest China, Xinhua said on Wednesday.
The center is situated in Jilin province near the Hunchun Nature Reserve on the border of China, Russia and North Korea. Conservationists have found a number of Amur tiger tracks in the region lately.
Fan Zhiyong, director the WWF-China Species Program, said late last year, "Tiger tracks found in this area show that the tigers are moving deeper into China from the Sino-Russian border. It is of critical importance that tiger conservation occurs in the whole Changbaishan area."
The Amur tiger, also known as the Manchurian tiger, is on the list of the ten most critically endangered species. In the late 1970s, northwest China had around 150 tigers, but by the late 1980s their number had reduced to 35.
Only 18-22 tigers are thought to remain in the mountainous region of northwest China today, the Chinese Forestry Ministry said.
The center's purpose is to help protect the tiger's habitat allowing the population to recover. The WWF plans to construct two more centers in northwest China.