Russia Far East celebrates Tiger Day
Tiger Day was first celebrated in Vladivostok, the Russia Far East’s biggest city, in 2000 to spread awareness of the need for conserving the Amur tiger, the largest of the six big cat sub-species that still survive in the wild today. The sub-species numbers about 500, confined to the forests of the Russian Far East and in northeastern China.
“We wanted to celebrate the dawn of a new millennium in 2000 with something original and nature friendly,” said Yulia Fomenko, communications officer at WWF Russia Amur branch. “It was Vladimir Troynin, a writer and wildlife biologist from the Russia Far East’s Primorsky Province, who then came up with the idea of Tiger Day to show our love for the Amur tiger.”
Since then, Tiger Day has taken off and declared an official holiday. Recognition of the Day grows with each passing year, with nature reserves taking an active part, and smaller cities and villages holding their own celebrations. This year, Tiger Day is being celebrated in the Amur tiger’s entire range in the Russia Far East – in Khabarovsky, Amurskaya and Evreiskaya Provinces, in addition to Primorsky, which has the species on its coats of arms.
Festivities started as early as 20 September with street parades, school performances, tiger face painting and various contests – art, handmade souvenirs, and photo. The festivities reach a climax in Vladivostok on 30 September. WWF will bring together supporters, among whom are volunteers of the “Plant a Forest for Leopards” action who had planted a million Korean pine saplings in the Land of the Leopard national park in 2011-2012. The Korean pine forest is a key habitat of the Amur tiger. In 2010, in an effort to regulate the trade in Korean pine timber, Russia listed the species in Appendix III of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).
WWF will also hold an eco-lottery where every participant stands a chance to win a small prize. It will conduct a “How to draw a tiger” master class for children.
“We are pleased that together with colleagues from other organizations, we are able to bring Tiger Day celebration to libraries and schools in the town square, and most important to the people,” said Ms. Fomenko.
In 2010, the Russian Government adopted the Strategy for Tiger Conservation, making commitments to double the number of wild tigers by 2022. However efforts to increase the wild Amur tiger population have to be supported by the people.
"Tiger Day is a good way to remind people in our country to express their love for the Tiger and spare a thought for nature," added Ms. Fomenko.