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    A CENSUS OF AMUR TIGER IN THE USSURY TAIGA BEGINS

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    VLADIVOSTOK, February 4, 2004. (RIA Novosti correspondent Anatoly Ilyukhov) - A census of Amur tigers and wild ungulates initiated by the Far Eastern branch of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has begun in the Maritime Territory at the foothills of the Sikhote-Alin mountain range.

    The Far Eastern branch of the WWF told RIA Novosti on Wednesday that the animals would be counted from the air and the ground.

    The WWF has financed a Mi-2 helicopter crew, who has counted wild animals from Chukotka to Sakhalin, to count animals from the air.

    The last census of Amur tigers was taken in the southern part of the Far East in 1996 and was recorded in the international Red Data Book. That census identified more than 400 "kings of the Ussury tiga" in the Maritime Territory and southern Khabarovsk Territory.

    Experts estimate that the extensive deforestation of the taiga has decreased the Amur tiger population. Tigers have gone to villages in the taiga in search of food, which has increased the number of conflicts between people and tigers.

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