Siberian (or Amur) tigers are the world’s largest cats. They live primarily in eastern Russia’s birch forests. There are an estimated 400 to 500 Siberian tigers living in the wild. Siberian tigers are renowned for their power and strength. These cats differ from other tigers because they have fewer, paler stripes, and they also have manes. The mane, in addition to their thick fur, helps keep them warm.
About 350 adult 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
The 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.
The 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.