News Archive


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

FIRST UAV WORKSHOP


A hands-on workshop, the first of its kind in the Russian Far East devoted to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or drones), was held in the Land of the Leopard National Park last week. Over 20 specialists from various national parks and nature reserves of the southern Russian Far East gathered to participate in the training session organized by the Phoenix Fund and Wildlife Conservation Society, with funding from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). The workshop let forest guardians deepen their knowledge, get familiar with new unmanned systems technologies, and improve their skills at operating UAVs.

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In late March the Visit Center of the Annui National Park hosted yet another SMART seminar organized by WCS. Staff of the park and WCS specialists discussed the latest SMART quarterly patrol performance report.  One year ago WCS introduced SMART at Annui National Park, making this already the sixth  protected area in Amur tiger habitat that is using SMART to help manage anti-poaching work. During the seminar WCS representatives discussed the patrol efforts during the previous quarter and results, such as citations for poaching violations and incidents where rifles were confiscated from poachers. 

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The 17th annual Tiger Day Festival was held in Vladivostok on September 25. This year’s event continued the trend of ever increasing size and interest, with an approximately 15,000 participants and an estimated 50,000 attendees. The event kicked off with a huge parade that included 91 groups representing schools and both governmental and non-governmental agencies engaged in environmental protection. The parade ended in the main square downtown, where entertainment on the main stage was supplemented by a variety of activities for kids were organized around the square. Read more...


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North of Ternei, in the province of Primorye where I conduct most of my research, there are no hotels and no restaurants. There are barely even people. There are only a half-dozen small settlements, logging towns or subsistence villages that are remote islands of humanity scattered broadly across a rolling sea of mountain and forest. When I travel to this wilderness it’s usually in a huge truck that doubles as a cabin, a hulking diesel we pack tightly with food and other supplies and assume it’s enough to sustain us.  Read more here.

  

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Tuesday, September 06, 2016

EAST OF SIBERIA: ARSENYEV IN THE LAND

 

I feel a kinship with Vladimir Arsenyev, the Russian topographer who explored Primorye a hundred years ago. We both know the secret places of these forests: the rivers where salmon spawn and the rocky outcroppings where tigers den. Arsenyev left an indelible mark not just on me, but on people across the province, with an entire city, a river, several museums, and multiple streets named after him today. Jonathan C. Slaght’s translation of Vladimir Arsenyev’s 1921 book Across the Ussuri Kray (Indiana University Press, 2016) is an unabridged, uncensored, detailed account of Arsenyev’s 1902 and 1906 expeditions. Augmented by several hundred annotations, two maps, and nearly forty photographs, it is available August 29, 2016, at Amazon,Barnes & NoblePowell’s Books, and elsewhere.Read more here.

  

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Sunday, August 21, 2016

THE CINDERELLA STORY CONTINUES…

 

New photographs just released from Bastak Reserve in the Russian Far East confirm that a feline Cinderella story continues to unfold. Brought into captivity as a nearly starved, 3-month old cub, the tigress that became known as Zolushka (Russian for Cinderella) flourished in a rehabilitation center designed to prepare her for life back in the wild. Without a mother (probably lost to poachers) Zolushka learned how to kill natural wild prey presented to her in the rehabilitation center, where she was kept far from people to preserve her innate fear of humans. Read more here.

  

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The temperate rainforests of Primorye become dense and green in summer, a vastness lost on those within it. Visibility can drop to almost zero along shrub-crowded game trails, where dew-drenched grasses cling like needy toddlers and spider webs tangle in the unshaven faces of those pushing through. Animals, resting nearby in the daytime heat, crash away unseen, and a discordant symphony of birdsong pulses from the canopy. Everything is immediate and aromatic; a box packed tight with vegetation, dirt, sweat, and humidity.
Not the kind of box you want to be in with a tiger.  Read more here.

  

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In autumn 2012, hunters found a young osprey wandering the forest of coastal Primorye. Whereas most of these fish-eating raptors had long flown south for the winter this one walked, dragging its broken wing behind it through the fallen leaves. The hunters chased the bird down, put it in a cardboard box, and brought it to Sergei, a colleague of mine they knew worked for a bird conservation NGO. By the time the raptor reached him, however, the broken wing had fused. The osprey would never fly again. Read more here.

  

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Why do tigers always seem to turn up when I’m looking for owls? My Russian colleagues and I spent about a month surveying for Blakiston’s fish owls in the Sikhote-Alin Reserve this winter, but mostly what we found was snow, cold, and tiger tracks. In fact, if we had been searching for tigers instead of fish owls, our expedition would have been a resounding success.   Read more here.

  

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One of my favorite Russian sayings, roughly translated, is that the better your off-road vehicle, the further you’ll have to walk to find a tractor to pull you free when you get stuck. I consider this phrase regularly during each Blakiston’s fish owl winter field season. We purposefully seek out the hard-to-reach places; the quiet corners of Primorye these secretive owls might be found. We cross narrow mountain passes, struggle through gauntlets of willow along overgrown forest roads, and gun it across rivers of uncertain ice integrity.  Read more here.

  

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