From: WWF
Published September 3, 2008 09:03 AM

Putin collars Dr Darman’s tiger

The Amur tiger has leapt into the headlines with former Russian president Vladimir Putin shooting a tiger with a tranquillizing gun in Russia’s far east, before tagging the tiger with a collar containing a satellite radio.

Putin, now his country’s prime minister, was taken on a trip into the Ussuriisk nature reserve near the Chinese border to see how researchers monitor the tigers in the wild. He helped measure the tiger’s incisors before placing the satellite transmitter around its neck.

See the Video Here

WWF-Russia, active in efforts to protect the Amur tiger for many years, is delighted at the wide publicity the tiger has received.

“This was the same tigress I tracked in January 2004 in the same place in Ussuriiskii,” said Dr.Yury Darman, Director of the Amur branch of WWF Russia. “At that time the size of its heel was 10cm and it had a brood of three tiger cubs.”

The Amur tiger, which can weigh up to 450kg and measure around three metres from its nose to the tip of its tail, has come back from the brink of extinction to its highest population for at least 100 years.

Only about 40 were alive in 1950 but nowadays there are around 450, one of the strongest tiger populations in the world.

Although this is a healthy increase, it doesn’t translate to the Amur tiger being out of danger. Poachers still target the animal for illegal markets, particularly in nearby China. Hunters are also a threat, with an illegal tiger trap being discovered on an adjacent hunting reserve last year.

And, as Dr Darman explained, “wild boar population defines the well-being of the Amur tigers, while the wild boar depends on a crop of Korean Cedar pine nuts and Mongolian oak acorns”.

As president, Putin received pleas from WWF and local residents to halt the destruction of Korean Cedar Pine forests, now encroaching on the reserve to the extent that loggers destroyed a popular ecological track.

Dr Darman said no state authority has real responsibility for the implementation of the 1996 Conservation strategy of the Amur tiger in Russia with basic financing still coming from international funds

“Vladimir Putin has heard all these issue from Andrey Kotlyar, the director of Ussuriiskii nature reserve,” Dr Darman said. “Now we may hope,that the problems which the WWF and nature reserve failed to solve for many years will receive state resolution at last.”

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