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The Poaching of Siberian Tigers Mikayla Herig

Monday, October 21, 2013

Wouldn't you like our children or grandchildren to be able to walk into the
zoo and see the magnificent "king of the jungle"? Only six subspecies of tigers
survive today and all are endangered if not critically endangered (IUCN Red List).
There are approximately only 500 individual Siberian tigers remaining in the wild.
Their habitat used to range from Mongolia to the southeastern parts of Russia and
the Korean Peninsula as well as Northeastern China. Now, they're primarily found
in the southeastern tip of Russia surrounded by mountains between the Sea of
Japan and the Amur River. One of the largest threats to the survival and
conservation of the Siberian Tigers (also commonly known as Amur Tigers) is the
poaching of them for their skin and bones (Seattle Times).
At a time, tigers were considered pests and were shot on site without a
second thought. Witnesses would understand when the tiger was caught munching
on your livestock (Seattle). Many tigers are poached for their skin, the special and
rare pattern of stripes is an appealing market piece. Similar to the human
fingerprint, no tiger has the same stripe pattern (Potter Park Amur Tiger Sign).
In addition to their hides, their bones, meat, and whiskers are also very
valuable. In ancient Chinese remedies, Siberian Tiger bones are ground up into the
mixture and the remaining parts of the tiger can be boiled into a different broth.
With the prices of a single tiger carcass soaring to around $15,000, the fine in
Russia for killing one of between $500 to $1,000 is a small sacrifice and does not
discourage poachers; and although there is a threat of spending up to three years in
prison, in the past 15 years no tiger-poacher has been sent to jail (Seattle).
There are many groups out there that are working to save the critically
endangered subspecies. WWF, or the World Wildlife Fund, is a large charity that
accepts donations towards the Siberian Tigers, setting up cameras to help catch
poachers, tracking the survivors of the dying species, as well as tracking their
health to make sure they maintain the average health of a wild tiger. A single
employee of WWF was able to restrain around 2,000 poachers in a single year
(World Wildlife Fund).
WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) Russia is another big program. They
do all that the WWF does, but they also take frequent surveys to ensure the
population remains stable at around 500 individuals as well as checking up on the
prey populations during the winter. They provide help for local game wardens and
conservation officers, sometimes supplying patrol cars and fuel to ensure the
potential poachers are under extreme surveillance (Wildlife Conservation Society).
The Siberian Tiger Project is a project dedicated solely to the protection of
Siberian Tigers rather than just wildlife as a whole; but it's still run by the WCS.
The project studies every aspect of the tigers so as to help in plans for
conservation. Teams have also been established to work with wild tigers, such as
freeing them from a poacher's snare or trap and performing health assessments.
WCS has other projects working on the Siberian Tiger issue such as the
Conservation and Sustainable Management of Amur Heilong Ecoregional
Complex Headwaters and the Protection of Siberian Tiger and its Habitat (WCS).
Since around 1910, the Siberian Tiger population has been dangerously low,
when they were hunted and considered game and referred to as pests or nuisances.
After about 30 years, the population was found to be around 30-50 individuals
remaining in the wild. In 1947, the Soviet Union declared that the hunting of
Siberian Tigers was unlawful and banned it. The population grew at a steady rate
while the Soviet Union remained in power. After the fall of the Soviet Union in the
1990's, the area experienced a poaching extravaganza, primarily led by Russia's
economic crisis and the loosening of borders and control or discipline (Seattle).
Poaching of Siberian Tigers is a major conservation issue. Since the
recovery of the species in the 1940s programs have been desperately fighting to
rescue the beautiful subspecies. It is believed that the only way the species will
survive is if the Russian attitude towards poaching is completely flipped around
(Seattle). If something isn't done, we could lose the tigers forever.

Works Cited:

Potter Park Zoo Amur Tiger Sign

Siberian Tiger Project. WCS Russia. Wildlife Conservation Society, n.d.. Web.
22 Oct. 2013.

Amur (Siberian)Tiger. WWF. WWF, n.d.. Web. 22 Oct. 2013.

Alex Rodriguez. Poaching Thinning Ranks of Hardy Siberian Tigers. The Seattle
Times. The Seattle Times, 20 Oct. 2006. Web. 22 Oct. 2013.

Panthera tigris. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. International Union
for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, Jan. 2013. Web. 23 Oct.