NE China national park sees significant increase in wild tigers, leopards-Xinhua

NE China national park sees significant increase in wild tigers, leopards

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2024-05-18 18:29:00

CHANGCHUN, May 18 (Xinhua) -- The population of wild tigers and leopards in the Northeast China Tiger and Leopard National Park has seen a marked increase in recent years.

According to Duan Zhaogang, head of the park administration, there are currently around 70 wild Siberian tigers and about 80 wild Amur leopards living within the park. In 2023 alone, 20 new tiger cubs and 15 leopard cubs were born there.

The distribution range of these big cats has continued to expand, reaching the westernmost edge of the park, with their habitat now covering over 11,000 square kilometers, about 80 percent of the total area of the park.

The park, formed on the basis of 19 former nature reserves, began its pilot phase in August 2017 as one of China's first five national parks and was officially established in 2021.

In recent years, habitat restoration projects have been initiated in the park to reclaim and restore 2,200 hectares of forestland, alongside ongoing anti-poaching patrols to ensure a high-quality ecological environment, Duan said.

The tiger and leopard population is experiencing an accelerated pace of recovery, Duan said.

In 2015, the number of wild Siberian tigers and Amur leopards in China was 27 and 42, respectively. The survival rate of wild Siberian tiger and Amur leopard cubs in the park has increased from 33 percent in 2015 to nearly 50 percent now.

Siberian tigers, also known as Amur tigers, mainly live in Russia's Far East and northeast China. One of the world's most endangered species, about 500 Siberian tigers are believed to be living in the wild.

Amur leopards, also known as the Far Eastern leopards, are also among the most endangered felines in the world.

To promote harmony between humans and nature, the park has established a compensation mechanism for wildlife damage, spending over 28 million yuan (about 3.94 million U.S. dollars) to address animal-related damages and injuries. The park has also issued real-time alerts for large animal sightings and used fiber-optic vibration sensors and physical barriers to reduce human-wildlife conflicts.

Additionally, the park halted all mining operations and initiated specialized forest product cultivation, involving local residents as ecological stewards.

These efforts have not only led to an increase in tiger and leopard numbers but have also seen populations of their prey, such as sika deer, wild boar and roe deer, more than double. Sightings of rare birds such as white cranes and white-naped cranes have also been recorded in the park for the first time in recent years, Duan said.

He noted that the park will continue to strengthen its protection and management and strive to further explore ways to achieve harmonious coexistence between humans and nature.