In early January nearly 2 meters of snow fell in parts of northern Primorsky Krai, posing a significant risk to ungulates, which have difficulty finding food and moving about in such conditions, and also become easy targets for poachers. In order to help relieve the situation, WCS and the Russia Program of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) are providing small, emergency grants to wildlife management organizations and nature reserves in northern Primorye, allowing them to undertake activities to help ungulates survive the winter.
Periodic deep snows can create huge problems for ungulates in the Russian Far East, including elk, wild boar, sika deer and roe deer -- some of the most important prey for the Amur tiger. Ungulates have a difficult time finding food and moving about in deep snow. Without special measures, massive die-offs can occur, as in the winter of 2002, when the majority of hunting leases in Primorsky Krai reported a loss of more than half their populations of elk, roe deer and wild boar.
Poaching is also a major threat, as many people take to the woods in order to make an easy kill of animals stranded in the snow. Meat from wild ungulates can be sold for several dollars a kilogram, a significant source of income for some rural areas in the Russian Far East.
In 2008 WCS and WWF created an emergency fund to provide small amounts of money to hunting leases and nature reserves in case of deep snows. The funding goes toward activities such as putting out feed, plowing trails to help ungulates move about, and additional protection and enforcement activities. Since mid-January we have already processed dozens of applications for help.
Read more about WCS's work to increase ungulate numbers and conserve tigers by supporting hunting leases in the Russian Far East.