Saturday, January 28, 2012

Help save Siberian tigers from extinction

To the Editor:

My name is Rowan E. Montgomery and I’m 9 years old. I want to tell you about Siberian tigers and how they’re going extinct.

Siberian tigers live in Russia. They are aggressive and hunt alone. They’re active mostly at night. In the nature special I watched on the Discovery channel, these tigers were so aggressive that they destroyed a fake Siberian tiger that the scientists put out. The fake tiger was so realistic that even the dogs thought it was real! By morning all of the color was taken off and the head, arms and tail were destroyed. This shows how powerful these animals are. They can grow as long as 13 feet and weigh as much as 700 pounds!

Siberian tigers are being killed by guns and other weapons for their body parts and fur. People sell the whiskers, bones and skins. In China they make medicine out of the bones even though it is illegal. Siberian tigers live in forests that are getting cut down for logging, taking away the land they need to live. Between 360 and 450 Siberian tigers are left in the world.

You could help to save the Siberian tigers if you wrote letters to the government, made a donation to a tiger conservation organization, or adopt a Siberian tiger from a zoo. You can make a difference if you just try.

Rowan E. Montgomery

Monday, January 16, 2012

Volunteers clear traps for Siberian tigers in NE China

Dozens of volunteers braved freezing temperatures and knee-high snow to clear traps for endangered wild Siberian tigers in northeast China this week.
In six groups, 73 volunteers searched six forest farms in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang in a four-day trap-clearing campaign that ended Friday.
The volunteers, age 18 and 65, included doctors, computer engineers, public servants and college students. There was even an Australian named Melissa Pettigrew.
If more people go out to clear traps in order to protect Siberian tigers, the endangered animals and their offspring can be better protected, Pettigrew said.
Winter is a tough season for the rare tigers as their prey becomes scarce, and the animals sometimes die from not having enough to eat or by coming into contact with a hunter's bullet or a trap.
Wang Lin, an initiator of the trap-clearing campaign, said that every winter, poachers set iron wire ring traps to catch wild animals like rabbits and roe deer as they can be more easily tracked on snow.
"The traps are cheap but very dangerous," said Wang. "They reduce the population of small animals, which are often prey for the tigers. They can even hurt tigers or help to catch them."
In late October 2011, a wild Siberian tiger was found dead with a trap around its neck in the city of Mishan in Heilongjiang, prompting environmentalists to call for enhanced wildlife protection.
Four to six wild Siberian tigers are believed to be living on the six forest farms, underscoring the importance of the volunteers' protection efforts.
Workers at one forest farm filmed a Siberian tiger last November, and with improving ecology, there have been more and more tiger paw prints spotted over the past couple of years.
One group of volunteers cleared 39 traps in the first three days, but their efforts were called off a day ahead of schedule after a forest farm worker told them he spotted a Siberian tiger and avoided the big cat by hiding behind a tree on Wednesday.
Two World Wildlife Fund experts tracked the tiger's paw prints on the snow for a day on Thursday, and found the female adult tiger roaming along a deserted forest road.
Siberian tigers are among the world's rarest species. The population of wild Siberian tigers is estimated at around 500, most of which live in Russia's far east and China's northeast.
There are only about 20 left in China, mostly in Heilongjiang and its neighboring province of Jilin, and according to Xinhua's calculations, seven have been found dead since 1993. Most of their deaths were related to human activities.
In November 2010, leaders from 13 countries, including China and Russia, committed to backing the Global Tiger Recovery Program, which aims to double the number of tigers in the wild by 2022.
China has set up nature reserves along its border with Russia to better protect the tigers' habitats by curbing excessive deforestation and poaching.
"Clearing one trap means reducing some danger," said Liu Tong, an expert with the New York-based non-profit organization Wildlife Conservation Society. "What we want to see most is no poaching and no traps in the habitats of the endangered Siberian tigers."

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Escaped Siberian tiger shot dead in East China park

A rare Siberian tiger escaped from an east China zoo, frightening locals in a downtown public park before she was shot dead by more than 12 police, the official Xinhua news agency said on Tuesday.

The nine-year-old endangered big cat fled her cage in Wuhu city, Anhui province when a zookeeper there forgot to lock the gate properly after feeding time, Xinhua said, citing zoo officials.

The tiger had a bad temper, "probably caused by mating anxiety," the zoo officials told Xinhua, which said that further investigation is underway. No humans were hurt in the incident.

The tiger's escape was the latest in a string of cases involving tigers escaping from zoos in China over the past few years, according to local media reports.

In January, a tour bus driver was mauled to death by a tiger at a breeding centre in northeast China after he got out of his vehicle to check on a mechanical problem and was dragged off to a wooded area by the hungry cat.

China says it has nearly 6,000 endangered tigers in captivity, but just 50 to 60 living in the wild in its northeast, including about 20 Siberian tigers.

In the 1980s, China set up tiger farms to try to preserve the big cats, intending to release some into the wild.
But the farms have come under the international spotlight, with some conservation groups saying they use the cats for their body parts, while media reports have exposed poor conditions at zoos and animal parks.
In one tiger attack in 2009, police in northeast China shot dead two starving Siberian tigers after they severely mauled a zoo worker.

Most escaped tigers are put down by police if they are not caught.