Saving the Amur Leopard in the Russian Far East
The Russian Far East, just above Vladivostok and near the Japanese Sea, is home to the Amur leopard and the Amur (Siberian) tiger. Both species are on the verge of extinction in the area. This is the result of various factors, including the poaching of the cats and of their prey species, and frequent human-induced forest fires that reduce both the quality and quantity of their habitat. There are around 45 Amur leopards left, and although the Siberian Tiger can also be found in other areas, there are only 10 left in this region.
About the applicant
The Tigris Foundation, a Dutch organisation dedicated to the survival of the Amur tiger and -leopard in the wild, has been helping the Phoenix Fund, a Russian member of the Amur Leopard and Tiger Alliance, to find resources and funds for its activities and projects. The Phoenix Fund has been active in the protection of the Amur leopard and -tiger for decades, and has developed various ways to raise awareness of conservation issues amongst local people.
About the application (2009)
In 1999 the Phoenix Fund initiated Tiger Day in Vladivostok, a wildlife festival that used a playful approach to draw attention to the importance of conserving the region’s wild cat species and other wildlife. It became an official celebration, recognised by the authorities. Because the festival was very successful ever since it was held for the first time, the Phoenix Fund was looking for funding to hold the festival every year. In 2009 the Fund even planned on organising similar festivals in smaller regional towns.
The Phoenix Fund also required funding to continue its other work, including activities such as giving presentations to schools, organising eco-camps and one-day conservation trips into the forest and inviting children and adults to the local conservation education centres in the different districts. The fund also sponsors a local club of conservation journalists, who make trips to cover various conservation topics, and grants awards for the best print articles and radio and TV broadcasts about various leopard-, tiger- and other conservation topics.
The aim was to allow the Phoenix Fund’s work to continue, especially activities related to raising awareness of conservation amongst local people and helping environmental journalists. Funding from the Prince Bernhard Fund for Nature would be used to organise another Tiger Day in five towns in the region.It would also be used for a children’s eco-camp and ecological education in five districts in the area. In addition, the Phoenix Fund would produce promotional materials, such as tiger- and leopard posters and bookmarks.
Due to circumstances, quite a few changes were made to these plans. Although Tiger Day was organised, it was not with funds from the Prince Bernhard Fund for Nature. Instead, Russian nature film producers made a film about the Amur leopard. It was broadcast on Russian television and segments of it are now used in educational projects. Fifty school children attended an eco-camp, and school children from 9 villages were given the opportunity to visit the local education centre. Primary- and secondary school teachers from the region attended a workshop, where they learned how to teach about the environment and conservation issues. Instead of producing posters and bookmarks, an Amur leopard banner was created, which was placed on a local ferry that runs daily across the Amur Bay, connecting Vladivostok to the Amur leopard’s territory. Find out more about the Phoenix Fund’s activities on http://www.phoenix.vl.ru/
Photo: Amur Leopard – Phoenix Fund