Wild Amur tiger captured by camera trap for the first time in critical Chinese forest
The tiger was captured in a camera trap photo in early November by WWF-China after footprints, bedding signs and evidence of tigers preying on wild boar were discovered earlier this year. The cameras were set up in Heilongjiang Province in the mountainous Wandashan area of the Amur-Heilong eco-region.
"This is the first time that a wild Amur tiger has been captured on camera in the area, and it adds to the evidence of a possible population settlement in the region", said Dr Zhu Chunquan, Conservation Director of Biodiversity and Operations at WWF-China.
"Action need to be taken to enhance existing protection methods for tigers, such as the immediate launch of greater safety precautions, the thorough removal of snares and developing more detailed monitoring techniques.”
The area still contains dense forest and is believed to host frequent Amur tiger activity. Less than 500 Amur tigers remain, with the majority of the population found in the neighbouring Amur region of the Russian Far East. China’s Amur tiger population is estimated at around 20 individuals.
WWF-China has been working closely with the Heilongjiang provincial forestry departments to launch conservation strategies within the Wandashan landscape, focusing on monitoring and anti-poaching. A camera trap monitoring project aimed at capturing the quantity and distribution of Amur tigers in the Eastern sector of Wandashan will be launched soon in partnership with the local Dongfanghon and Yingchun forestry bureaus.
WWF-China is also supporting the local government to draw up the Heilongjiang Province Wild Amur Tiger Conservation Plan, which will involve a separate recovery plan to run in tandem with the national China Tiger Recovery Plan.
"To create prime conditions for the protection and recovery of the Amur Tiger population, we are pro-actively preparing for the establishment of the Heilongjiang Laoyeling Amur Tiger Nature Reserve and the Heilongjiang Wandashan Amur Tiger Nature Reserve,” said Dong Jie, Deputy Director General of the Heilongjiang Forest Industrial Bureau.
Efforts needed to protect Amur tiger
WWF has called for the improvement and extension of Amur tiger habitat along with greater conservation efforts, such as increased tiger and prey monitoring and implementation of better anti-poaching methods as well as the rescue and rehabilitation of injured wild tigers.