There are now 535 tigers in the Russian Far East according to the most recent survey, according to Henrik. This is up from a count of a couple of dozen in the 1940s, when the Russian government introduced legislation ending the ‘free hunt’ period.
Nevertheless, as Chris Slappendel points out, although the numbers are up, if the Amur tigers were properly protected their population would be far higher. The Chinese, Chris says are the main poachers now, as one dead tiger in China can be sold for between $400,000 and $500,000. The second main problem is lack of food, with tigers dying from starvation. Poachers don’t just go after tigers; they go after the deer and boar the tigers feed on. Chris describes his conversation with an official in Vladivostok who said that over 40,000 hunting permits have been issued in Primosrky Krai alone which is a lot of permits.
Henrik Winthers explains that one adult tiger needs to eat one hoofed animal a week. Siberia is loaded up with bio life, which means that this is not a problem, if it wasn't for illegal logging. A lot of land has also been taken over by agriculture; and forest is being logged for exactly the type of wood that provides food, namely pinecones, for the deer and wild boars, Henrik says.
He adds that the best way he can help is to provide the tigers with feed for the hoofed animals, which is exactly what he has been doing. He has been working with a new national park — Anuisky NP — and this year alone brought 50 tons of feed into the forest to help hoofed animals survive the long winter. As a result, the tiger population has doubled over the past 5 years. Henrik says that this is a joint effort and shows that good results can be obtained by focussing on efforts ‘on the ground’ and education.
Henrik is about to lease 150,000 hectares of land adjacent to the Anuisky National Park to protect wild life in that area. He is also working very hard on raising awareness of the plight of the Amur tiger, through his restaurants. Chris says that he wants to use the same PR model as Henrik, and approach large companies which use or could use the word or symbol of tigers in their logos. This would provide an income to support all the tigers in the world, through his ‘Icon Rights of Nature’ campaign. Chris sees this as being very effective, but still carries on with the ‘name and shame’ campaign, which is what he talked about the last time he was on a Brave New World programme in October of last year. So, Chris says, you have to be aggressive and also pacifist at the same time.
Ultimately, Henrik says, it takes effort from all of us. He gives due credit to the WWF, with whom Henrik works very closely, and who he says are doing an incredible job. Saving the Amur tiger is clearly a massive job, and the efforts of these two Scandinavians can only be said to be inspiring.
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