The WWF warns of a deadly winter, especially for the Amur tigers in eastern Russia. It is not just the weather that troubles the animals, poachers too.
Khabarovsk / Berlin – Extreme snow masses in the far east of Russia are currently endangering the already threatened Amur tiger, the largest wild cat on the planet.
Because of the unusually deep snow, the tigers and other wild animals such as roe deer, sika deer and wild boar could hardly find food, said the environmental organization World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) on Sunday. The “snow hell” becomes a deadly danger. Winter feedings for ungulates are said to help ease the situation.
Thick blankets of snow
Even at the start of the winter season there is 50 to 80 centimeters of deep snow in the lower elevations, in the mountains it is more than a meter. Many animals could not break through this thick blanket of snow. “Poachers have already made use of the emergency situation and have gone on illegal hunting,” said Markus Radday, Russia consultant and project manager at WWF Germany. He also fears that human conflict situations will increase as tigers and other wild animals invade populated areas in search of food.
The local population is already noticing an increase in the activities of the big cats. Teams of experts monitored the situation in the particularly affected regions of Khabarovsk and Evreyskaya Oblast. They should help to minimize conflicts.
Poachers take advantage of the situation
According to the WWF, the tigers should eat around ten kilograms of meat every day. The number of particularly strictly protected Amur tigers in Russia, particularly threatened by poachers, is estimated to be around 540. They live mainly in the Amur region in the far east of Russia not far from the Pacific coast.
Poachers face up to four years imprisonment and heavy fines if the animals are illegally hunted. Most recently, at the end of November, the Russian police found a dead tiger in a forest in the Primorye region. Investigators initiated criminal proceedings after examining the gunshot wound and ammunition. dpa