Amur (Siberian) tiger numbers plummet
Friday 16 October 2009
The Zoological Society of London’s 21st Century Tiger programme is calling for an urgent change in law enforcement following reports of a 40 per cent decrease in the population of Amur tigers in the Russian Far East.
Amur tiger numbers have remained stable in the area for the past 10 years, but a new study by The Siberian Tiger Monitoring Program reveals that tiger numbers have fallen significantly, with poaching and habitat degradation to blame.
“Hopefully this shocking news will push to the fore the necessity for greater law enforcement regulations in order to improve conditions and stop the further decline in Amur tiger numbers,” says Sarah Darlington, coordinator of 21st Century Tiger.
A fall in numbers of the key prey species of Amur tigers has also been observed: “If tiger numbers were responding to the reduced number of prey we would expect there to be a lag before we saw tiger tigers decrease. The fact that both prey and tigers are falling simultaneously strongly suggests that poaching is a driving force,” says Dimitri Pikunov, one of the coordinators of the monitoring program.
The drop in tiger numbers coincides with extended governmental reforms which reduced the effectiveness of environmental protection agencies of Russia. The situation appears to be improving, but new hunting regulations about to be introduced are likely to make it even harder for law enforcement agents to control poaching.
ZSL join with The World Conservation Society (WCS) and a number of other governmental organisations to make recommendations on improvements in habitat protection and a strengthening of the protected areas network to reverse the downward trend.