Conservationists from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) will be the first to use camera traps specifically for catching trespassers in a new project launching today.
Camera traps are typically used to capture images of endangered species for conservation purposes. But in a bid to increase anti-poaching efforts, special camera traps will be camouflaged and hidden in Russian forests to record illegal entry by would-be poachers.
As part of ZSL’s ‘Forest Eyes’ project, a total of 30 camera traps will be set up in Lazovsky Nature Reserve and Zov Tigra National Park in the Russian Far East, equivalent to a total area a little larger than London.
The two protected areas are 15 to 20 kilometres apart and separated by public land used mostly for hunting and logging. This results in people taking advantage of the area between the nature reserve and the national park to trespass onto nearby protected areas.
ZSL tiger conservationist Linda Kerley says: “The images from camera traps set up for humans will better inform us of any illegal activity in protected areas, so inspectors can be notified and patrols changed accordingly.
“We will be able to monitor the area more effectively and ensure we are doing all we can to try and change people’s attitudes and behaviours towards poaching,” Linda added.
Around five years ago, seven tigers disappeared from the protected areas and conservationists believe it was very likely they were poached. In the past year alone there were three seizures in the area, so it is critical that anti-poaching projects are effective. There are now 14 to 20 tigers that roam the national park and the nature reserve, and numbers remain stable.
ZSL’s conservation manager Sarah Christie added: “We hope the awareness of extra camera traps targeting people who encroach on protected areas will deter poachers from trying to kill tigers and their prey animals.”
ZSL has been involved in Amur tiger conservation in the Russian Far East for nearly 20 years. With the launch of ‘Forest Eyes’ conservationists will work with the support of the local Government to raise awareness of conservation efforts to protect the remaining Amur tiger population.