Siberian tiger also known as the Amur tiger is rusty-yellow or reddish-rusty in color with narrow black transverse stripes (Figure 1) which is the largest of tiger species and can grow up to 13 feet in length and weigh up to 397–675 lb for males and 220–368 lb for females (Mazák, 1981).
Figure 1. A Siberian tiger (The Stuff Makes Me Happy)
The Distribution of Siberian Tigers
More than one hundred years ago, Siberian tigers were widely distributed in temperate mixed coniferous-broadleaved forests which located the Southeast corner of Russia in the Sikhote-Alin mountain range east of the Amur River and in northeastern China. They also ranged in Korean Peninsula (Figure 2). But Siberian tiger were considered to be the EN on the red list of IUCN now around 350-450 in Russia (Hance, 2015) , and with only 27 in China.
Figure 2. The comparison distribution of Siberian tigers in late 19th century and modern range (Matthew Shaer, 2015)
The Disasters Pushed Siberian Tiger to Wipe out in China
The number of Siberian tiger had decreased a lot in China in last decades. One of the Chinese research thought two disaster events led to the extinction of Siberian tiger. One was the forest harvesting for supporting the construction of mainland in 1950s-1960s and economic production since 1980s. The long term harvesting caused the habitats largely destroyed or insulated, the Siberian tiger’s range was shrunk, which was the major reason for disappearance of Siberian tiger by seriously limiting the distribution of them. The other was hunting activity of Siberian tiger in China. In 1960s, hunters and militia killed the Siberian tigers with guns for protecting people since Siberian tiger was regarded as vermin (Figure 3). Lately, China had already set laws to conserve the Siberian tiger, and emphasized it many times. But in many habitats, we can still find hunting equipment due to the important commercial values.
Figure 3. Local hunters killed wild Siberian tigers in 1960s (Jiahui Yuan)
The Efforts of Siberian Tiger Conservation in China
The project of native vegetation conservation has commenced since 1998. The function and structure of forest continued to recover, the species like deer, wild boar which are main food resources for Siberian tiger also recovered quickly. In 2001, Huichun Siberian Tiger Nature Reserve was established in region where Siberian tiger occurred most frequently and used to have highest population density with area of 1087 km2. Although 1087 km2 was a small area for wild Siberian tiger, it connected with the Russian National Park, the total area can reach to 4000 km2. Since the beginning of 2006, the biodiversity conservation team of BNU (Beijing Normal University) had set 1200 cameras within the habitats of 20,000 km2 to collect data including the abundance of Siberian tiger and their food resources abundance (Beijing News, 2016). In 2003, wild Siberian tiger was first shoot by camera in China, and in 2009, the wild Siberian tiger was fifth shoot within Huichun Siberian Tiger Nature Reserve (Hu, 2010). Figure 4 shows the distribution of occurrence of wild Siberian tiger from 1998 to 2008. The x-axis represents year while y-axis represents the frequency of occurrence (Hu, 2010). Since 2012, WWF (World Wildlife Fund) has cooperated with wild Siberian tiger nature reserves in China to increase the food resources for Siberian tigers which aims to increase the rate of reproduction (Luo, 2016). WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) also has contributed a lot time in wild Siberian tiger conservation. In 2013, an exciting scene happened that the number 5 female wild Siberian tiger with 4 little baby following was seen by team BNU. It indicated that Siberian tiger can inhabit and reproduce in Huichun Siberian Tiger Nature Reserve.
Figure 4. The distribution of occurrence of wild Siberian tiger from 1998 to 2008 in China with incomplete monitoring records (WCS)
Limitation and Future Efforts of Siberian Tiger Conservation in China
According to the data distribution, the area where Siberian tiger occurred was marked red, and the whole marked area looked like isolated islands. This distribution demonstrated that fragmentation habitats limit the activity of Siberian tigers. Although, China has already set 5 major nature reserves where suitable for Siberian tiger living, all of these nature reserves are separated with each other. The fragmentation habitats cause difficulty for production of Siberian tigers during their limited lifetime. Probably, the connectivity of separated habitats is significant direction for future efforts to sustain and flourish the number of Siberian tiger in China. The other limitation is the scarce of prey for Siberian tigers, so them have to catch the sheep (Figure 5) or poultry feed by domestic people which cause conflict between Siberian tiger and local residents. Therefore, food sources supplement for Siberian tigers is also vital in future efforts.
Figure 5. Poultry was attacked by wild Siberian tigers because of lacking food(Laihui Wang)
Beijing News, 2016. The dilemmas of 27 wild Siberian tigers in China. 3.http://xw.qq.com/cmsid/NEW2016030604618403
Hance, J., 2015. “Happy tigers: Siberian population continues to grow”.Mongabay.com. Retrieved 13 June, 2015.
Hu, M., 2010. The wild Siberian Tigers. Chinese National Geography, Issue 09.
Luo, K., 2016. The last wild Siberian tigers in China. Scientific American, 29 7.
Mazák, V., 1981. “Panthera tigris”. Mammalian Species., 152 (152), pp. 1-8. doi:10.2307/3504004. JSTOR
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