WCS field staff collect data during
capture of a juvenile Amur tiger.
Photo by John Goodrich, WCS.
500 Siberian or Amur tigers are left in the wild, with 95% of them in
the Russian Far East. Within the tiger’s range in Russia, the largest
protected area is the Sikhote-Alin Biosphere Reserve, a 400,000 ha (4000
km2) reserve that has been a stronghold for the Amur tiger
since its creation in 1935, and which harbors over 30 tigers today. In
1992 WCS (initially as the Hornocker Wildlife Institute) in cooperation
with the Sikhote-Alin Reserve began intensive studies of tiger ecology
under the Siberian Tiger Project, today the world’s longest running
radio-telemetry based tiger research and conservation effort.
Research and Conservation
goal of the Siberian Tiger Project is to collect the best possible
scientific information on tiger ecology for use in conservation plans.
Through radio-tracking of more than 60 tigers since 1992, WCS
specialists have studied their social structure, land use patterns, food
habits, reproduction, mortality, and relationship with other species,
including humans. As a result we have consistently made sound
conservation recommendations based upon comprehensive knowledge of tiger
ecology and the role of tigers in the forested ecosystems of the
Russian Far East. The Siberian Tiger Project positions WCS as scientific
leaders in Russia, and gives us the credibility to engage policy-makers
as scientists with a real understanding of tiger conservation needs.
Siberian Tiger Project has always sought to combine traditional Russian
approaches to field research, such as snow track counts, and best
approaches from abroad, such as radiotelemetry, in order to achieve new,
ground-breaking results. Current research is focusing on cub mortality,
dispersal and survivorship, comparison of density estimation
techniques, and understanding the relationship between poaching and
population structure and dynamics.
Fast facts about tigers at the northern limits of their range.
Photo gallery: A closer look at tigers studied under the Siberian Tiger Project.
Victor, a tiger freed from a poacher's snare
by WCS and government response team
specialists, is released back into the wild.
Photo by John Goodrich, WCS.
Managing Conflict Situations
the Siberian Tiger Project, WCS has equipped a team of experts with the
necessary skills to work with wild tigers, and to conduct captures,
health assessments, translocations, and subsequent monitoring. For this
reason, since 1999 the Russian government has annually requested WCS’s
assistance in resolving tiger-human conflict situations.
involvement in addressing tiger-human conflicts has resulted in improved
capacity to alleviate problem situations through aversive conditioning
and translocation of problem tigers, as well as in reduced human-caused
mortality and improved safety of local citizens. We have conducted and
documented the first ever successful rehabilitations and translocations
of problem tigers of any subspecies, providing a new and potentially
effective tool for dealing with tiger-human conflicts throughout the
Read more about managing tiger-human conflicts.
Training the Next Generation of Conservation Biologists
Graduate student Svetlana Soutyrina
with a recently collared tiger cub.
Photo by Dale Miquelle, WCS.
2008 WCS finished construction of the Sikhote-Alin Research Center,
which serves as a training ground for promising Russian graduate
students in wildlife biology and biodiversity conservation. Russian
students based at the center conduct research jointly with foreign
graduate students, with supervision from WCS and Sikhote-Alin Zapovednik
scientific staff, maximizing opportunity for cultural, linguistic, and
scientific exchange, and improving the skills needed for young Russian
and Western ecologists to establish themselves in the international
Ongoing collaborative projects include
camera trapping and assessment of methods for estimating tiger density,
studies of bear behavior, and research on habitat use by Blakiston’s
fish owls. Students at the Sikhote-Alin Research Center also participate
extensively in radio-telemetry, tracking and capture activities, all
conducted as part of the Siberian Tiger Project. We see our work with
graduate students as a vital stepping stone in building local capacity
in the Russian Far East, and in ensuring that there will be a group of
Russian professionals capable of carrying on science and conservation in
Read more about WCS Russia’s support for student research.