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China to create massive national park to protect Siberian Tiger and Amur Leopard

China to create massive national park to protect Siberian Tiger and Amur Leopard
March 20, 2017

China is reportedly planning to create a vast national park of 14,600 kilometres² to protect endangered Siberian Tigers and Amur leopards.

The Jilin provincial forestry department announced last week that plans for the national park, in the north eastern provinces of Jilin and Heilongjiang bordering Russia’s Primorsky region, had been approved by the central authorities.

Wild Siberian tigers are on the very edge of extinction. Widespread, intensive logging in their native homelands in the 1950s caused the population to crash. Research carried out in 1998 found evidence of only six to nine tigers in the area.

With a logging ban in full effect in northeast China since April 2015 and decades of natural protection efforts, the number of tigers has recovered with experts estimating that there are currently five wild Siberian tiger families, believed to number 27 in total, living in Jilin.

However, space limitations within nature reserves in China and Russia have restricted the natural growth of the species in the wild.

Amur leopards share the same habitat and are also endangered. Estimates suggest that there are currently 35 tigers and 70 leopards in protected areas totally roughly 4000 kilometres².

Aside from specific endangered species, the park will also serve as a link between a number of currently isolated protection zones and is seen as crucial for protecting biodiversity in the northern temperate zone.

Fan Zhiyong, Species Program Director with WWF Beijing, said the national park initiative is helpful in linking separate wildlife protection areas in the region, which would pave the way for wider China-Russia cooperation in wildlife protection in the region.

However, experts say this is not nearly enough land to support the animals.

Ge Jianping, deputy director of Beijing Normal University and a tiger expert, said conditions on the Chinese side are more favorable than across the border for the endangered species.

He also suggested that “it is vital for China to make a long-term mechanism in order to consolidate and sustain the progress in protecting wild Siberian tigers and Amur leopards.”

There are also plans to establish a monitoring and rescue centre in the park for wild tigers and leopards. Further scientific and research facilities are also on the cards.

China’s first national park pilot was instigated last year in the Sanjiangyuan area in south west China’s Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. This is specifically to protect the headwaters of the Yangtze, Yellow, and Lancang (Mekong) rivers. It is expected to officially open in 2020.

Images: Siberian tigers (top and middle) and an Amur leopard (below - images courtesy of World Wildlife Fund).

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3rd March 2016 - UNITED NATIONS MARKS WORLD WILDLIFE DAY WITH A GLOBAL CALL TO SAVE ENDANGERED SPECIES

8th October 2015 - GIANT PANDAS AND LITTLE PENGUINS COMBINE FOR CONSERVATION 

22nd April 2015 - WORLD’S PROTECTED NATURAL AREAS RECEIVE EIGHT BILLION VISITS A YEAR 

25th March 2015 - INTERNATIONAL ZOO ASSOCIATION ACCUSED OF OVERLOOKING HORRIFIC ANIMAL CRUELTY

19th November 2014  - CRIMINAL WILDLIFE POACHING DRIVING ENDANGERED SPECIES TO BRINK OF EXTINCTION 

12th November 2014 - ONLY ONE IN FOUR PROTECTED AREAS IS WELL MANAGED 

23rd October 2012 - INDIA RESUMES TIGER TOURISM 

19th March 2010 - TIGER DEATHS LEAD TO CHINESE ZOO CLOSURE


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