China plans to develop a unified national park system by 2020, after gathering inspiration from wilderness recreation areas in the United States.
Chinese officials in charge of the project have visited Yellowstone National Park and other protected areas and met with conservation experts to prepare for the task.
How a brave billy goat and a Siberian tiger became best friends.
A goat has died of ‘natural causes’ four years after forming an unlikely friendship with a Siberian tiger having being fed to it as live prey.
Timur the Russian billy goat was intended to be the big cat’s lunch in 2015 but for some reason, he didn’t quite fancy what was on the menu that day.
Tiger Amur could have killed the goat in an instant but never did and the pair soon became the most extraordinary of friends and playmates. Incredible footage shows the pair playing together at a safari park, in eastern Russia, with Timur bravely head-butting the tiger.
Dubbed “tiger academician”, Ma Jianzhang, the 82-year-old academician of China Engineering Academy, had his first encounter with wild Siberian tiger in 1960s, which opened a new chapter in his career focusing on the study of the endangered species.
From 2013 to 2018, wild individual Siberian tigers have been observed a total of 57 to 62 times in China, compared to 12 to 16 tigers in 2000.
In 2017, China established its first national park for Siberian tigers and Amur leopards. Spanning an area of over 1.46 million hectares in the provinces of Jilin and Heilongjiang, the park is scheduled to be completed in 2020.
Pilot national parks make progress in ecological protection.
All of China’s 10 pilot national parks will have finished construction next year, with some parks having made significant achievements in ecological and wildlife protection, the forestry department announced on Thursday.
Since 2015, China has approved the construction of 10 pilot national parks covering more than 20 square kilometers.
In Northeast China Tiger and Leopard National Park, the number of endangered wild animals in the park has witnessed satisfying growth in the past two years, the National Forestry and Grassland Administration said on Thursday.
Both the Siberian tiger and Amur leopard-two species listed as critically endangered in the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List-have seen a population increase, with 10 young baby Siberian tigers and six Amur leopards born during the period, according to Zhang Shanning, deputy head of the park’s management bureau.
Toma was the oldest Amur tiger in captivity in the world and was euthanized on orders of the management of the zoo in New York (USA), a state where euthanising humans is not allowed.
Zoos see tigers as moneymakers. They attract more people than any other animal. Most of the times the management of zoos makes their audience believe that tigers are in zoos because of a ‘survival” plan, which is highly questionable as there are better ways for tigers to create this.
Ted Fox, the Rosamond Gifford Zoo director, said the zoo will acquire another pair of Amur tigers and continue to participate in the species survival plan in the future.
What he really means is that they need another tiger to attract people to the zoo again.
Children wearing yellow and orange t-shirts, adults carrying orange balloons and park rangers in tiger-print SUVs all took part in an annual parade to raise awareness of the plight of the Amur tiger, which is on the brink of extinction.
Amur tigers, also known as Siberian tigers, mainly live in Russia’s the Far East, northeast China and northern parts of the Korean Peninsula. It is one of the world’s most endangered species, with less than 500 believed to remain in the wild, only around 20 of which in China.
Tigers Advance and Farmers Retreat in China’s Northeast.
Tigers are costing Zheng Hailun a fortune. The 64-year-old rents acres of pastureland on China’s northeastern border to graze his cattle, but these days he can rarely use it. He keeps his cows locked up for most of the year, spending around $25,000 on extra feed.
Zheng is not doing this to protect his animals from big cats; rather, it’s the other way around. He is one of thousands of farmers in northeastern China forced to remove their cattle from the mountains to preserve the habitats of China’s few remaining Siberian tigers.
A rare Amur tiger in Russia’s far-eastern Khabarovsk region, near the border with China, killed one of two hunters who encroached on its territory while it was eating a deer, state media reported on Tuesday.
The hunters were attacked when they got out of their boat several metres from the tiger to look at a grove of pine nuts, wildlife conservationist Sergei Aramilev said in comments carried by state news agency RIA Novosti.
As the tiger killed one of the men, the other man fatally shot it with a firearm, said Aramilev, who heads the Amur Tiger Centre, an organisation that assists the species.
India’s Tigers, Lions, Leopards Face A New Deadly Threat.
2967 is the number which we all started celebrating. India had done well, it seemed, in its conservation efforts with these many tigers in the wild. But with regular decline in habitat, prey base and increase in poaching, do we really think that their survival is still not threatened?
Along with these threats, another increasing threat is being ignored by all which has reached an alarming level now. If we don’t act on the massive threat to wildlife that is posed by the Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) which is easily transmitted through infected dogs in and around the sanctuaries and also the feral dog gangs, it may be too late.
CDV means Canine Distemper Virus – a dog virus that can be lethal to tigers as well.
A recent study published in Threatened Taxa notes that 86% of the tested dogs around the Ranthambhore National Park in Rajasthan carried CDV antibodies in their bloodstream. This means that the dogs are either currently infected or have been infected sometime in their life and have overcome the disease.
However, the chance that they infect a tiger after a tiger ate the dog is real.
The advice from the author is to sterilize or vaccinate all stray dogs around Ranthambore National Park.
by Chris Slappendel·Comments Off on Why China Wants To Kill Tigers – And It Is Not Medicines.
Why China Wants To Kill Tigers - And It Is Not Medicines.
Today a major political wild animal circus starts in Geneva where CITES, an organ of the United Nations, tries to deliver a new agreement of the trade in endangered animals.
The result of the negotiations on tigers of more than 190 countries will be the same as it has always been – as we will find out when CITES presents their results: CITES will put pressure on China to stop with tiger farming and China will find ways to avoid it or plainly not obey.
The big question that nobody is asking, is WHY?
Why is China so opposed to stopping the poaching business and why is China so opposed to stopping the tiger farming? This article will give the only answer possible.
This article was published on the day the CITES-negotiations start in Geneva (Switzerland): the 18th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP).
This CITES-meeting has an agenda. The species ‘tiger’ is not even on the agenda, while other species like leopard, elephant and apes are. And we all know that tigers are threatened with extinction.
The big question for CITES is why tigers are not addressed more prominently on the agenda as it obviously sends out a bad signal. Another question is why CITES keeps allowing China to carry on with tiger farming, while already many years ago CITES urged China to stop.
This article expresses deep concerns about the way China constantly avoids necessary action towards stopping tiger farming, smuggling, poaching and trading of tigers or tiger products.
Tigers are doomed in China, as most people know, especially the ones in conservation and wildlife crime. But many people don’t know why besides pointing a finger to medicines – which is partly right.
4 in 1 – and from 10,000 to almost none
The tiger originates from China, as Chinese scientists like to point out. In Gansu province, the two million-year-old remains of a tiger were found in a town called Longnan, making the Longnan tiger the oldest tiger in the world. But China has – or had – more to offer. A short history lesson shows that China once was blessed with no less than four sub-species of tigers. The Bengal tiger roamed in and near Tibet, the Indochinese one near Laos and Vietnam. The South China tiger only roamed in China and covered the forests in the south and the fourth sub-species – the Siberian or Amur tiger, which the Chinese prefer to name it the North China tiger – roamed in the north of China.
Sjanghai zoo – South China tiger (source: Wikicommons)
More than 10,000 tigers once roamed the Chinese forests. But not any more, besides a handful of Amur tigers near the Russian-North Korean border and some Bengal tigers in Tibet (which the Chinese consider China).
The rest has been wiped out from China. The South China tiger is officially extinct in the wild, with only a few in zoos and a breeding farm in South Africa.
Chinese culture is not leading to tiger killings
The same history lesson tells us that China has a large cultural history with tigers, which in fact is no different than other countries – like India, Nepal, Thailand or other countries where tigers reside. People tend to believe that the Chinese people had a history of killing tigers but that is not the case – that is, not more than in other countries.
The Chinese people feared the tiger and this fear made the tiger become an important part of the cultural inheritance, which (of course) is different in China compared to other countries.
You might say that the old Chinese culture is not supportive of conserving tigers, but the contrary seems more likely as tigers are worshipped in cultural legends.
Systematic killing of tigers started in the Mao-era
However, the moment that the Chinese started to kill tigers systematically happened only recently – historically seen.
At first the Chinese tiger genocide (a strong word but highly applicable) was fueled by ‘the great leap forward’, the economical program of Mao Zedong, ruler of China from 1949 until 1976. Agriculture was key in his program and tigers – like we also saw within the former Soviet republics – were feared by farmers, which endangered the required economical progress. Most of the four thousand tigers in the south of China were killed because the Chinese government considered them as pests, even offering bonuses to hunters.
The agricultural program of Mao in action during his Great Leap Forward, lead to millions of deaths due to hunger (source: Tombstone]
In a later period Mao was confronted with ‘something’ else: his big plan didn’t work. More and more people got into trouble and without food. Because this subject (the great Chinese Famine) is still a taboo in China, the numbers of people that died between 1955 and 1961 remain unknown. The estimations of people that starved to death in that period, however, go up to as far as 45 million people.
TCM – the start of a brand in folk solutions
Mao needed to do something, being desperate that his plan didn’t work. He realized that there were not enough doctors or medical specialists to deal with all medical problems and created a solution – even one he didn’t even believe in himself. All folk remedies (effective or not) were collected under his command. The result of that collection was another red book: Traditional Chinese Medicines, more commonly known as TCM.
The little red TCM book – Source: Amazon.com
From that moment on wild animals in China were really doomed as wild animals were the main ingredients for TCM.
Something else is important to mention, as this is part of the reason why China is opposing the ending of tiger farming. China has the biggest army in the world. During the ‘Great Chinese Famine’ soldiers were suffering too. Because the army was considered more important than China’s people, the army became a main consumer of available TCM.
TCM as the start of international wildlife crime
When TCM was institutionalized in the fifties by the Chinese authorities all hell broke loose for wild animals. Even the seemingly endless forests of China started to get empty.
The Chinese mafia (or syndicates) started to realize they could make serious money out of wildlife. The demand for wildlife remained strong due to TCM but the supply was getting lower and lower due to the empty forests. In other countries however there was enough wildlife available but it was illegal to hunt abroad, although that didn’t stop people without moral.
World Wildlife Day 2015 Infographic – source: African Wildlife Foundation
This was the moment Chinese syndicates stepped into a very profitable activity. The Chinese mafia started to create (illegal) ways to get wild animals from neighboring countries. They started organizing international poaching, smuggling and trafficking wildlife, which basically was the start of the international wildlife crime as it is called today. In 2015 this illegal business was estimated at US$ 23 billion – even going up to more than US$ 40 billion.
Why is wildlife crime so interesting? There are two main reasons.
The most important one is the profit-side. The amount of money you can make with wildlife crime is mind-blowing, because the demand is high and the supply is low. Prices are skyrocketing. A panda can get as high as one million US$, a tiger easily to US$ 400,000 – if marketed and distributed wisely, which is easy for the Chinese syndicates.
The costs of poaching are low: a poacher will get a couple of hundred dollars, smugglers the same. Sometimes a bit more. For the syndicates these amounts are considered pocket money because of the prices they can ask for their products – like oils, potions, tiger bone wine (business gifts), amulets, meat (for certain restaurants), skins (for furniture or clothing). Of course we can’t forget the pills because TCM was and still represents a large demand.
The other side is risk-avoidance. The risk of wildlife crime was always considered low if you compare it with drugs, human trafficking or weapons. Why? Because the chances of getting caught were like zero and when you were caught, chances of a conviction were also considered zero. Nobody cared in the beginning.
So for the syndicates it was easy money.
The slow start of CITES
When the world realized that more and more species were getting extinct in countries like China, Myanmar, Laos, Bangladesh, Russia, South and North Korea, Mongolia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Nepal and India (almost all neighboring China), it called for action. In 1963 the UN decided to act but it took no less than 10 years (!) before CITES was installed.
First meeting of CITES. Source: sdg.iisd.org
In those 10 years the Chinese syndicates were unattended and were able to go on with the slaughter of wild animals.
CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. CITES works by subjecting international trade in specimens of selected species to certain controls. All import, export, re-export and introduction from the sea of species covered by the Convention has to be authorized through a licensing system. Each Party to the Convention must designate one or more Management Authorities in charge of administering that licensing system and one or more Scientific Authorities to advise them on the effects of trade on the status of the species. The species covered by CITES are listed in three Appendices, according to the degree of protection they need.
It took a while before CITES became effective. But when it started in 1973 it actually slowed down the massive killings of wild animals. As a consequence, the mafia responded, putting more pressure in their value chain – with bribing law enforcers, extorting and even killing people that were in the way. They also realized that with that pressure their risks became bigger and bigger. Because of all new regulations, new laws and the growing law enforcement, the Chinese syndicates created other ways of making money. Even an easier one: farming.
Farming tigers as the solution for CITES
In the beginning of the eighties wild animal farming was suddenly introduced in China. The most prominent ones were the bear-bile farming and the tiger farming. Also the term ‘speed breeding’ was introduced: a way to breed animals in a way that female animals are constantly pregnant, delivering as much offspring as possible.
In 1983 China was out of tiger stock. The World Wild Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Wildlife Conservancy Society (WCS) helped China with moving eight purebred tigers from US zoos to the first tiger farm in China. China started breeding tigers, probably at first with conservational reasons, but no one knows for sure. Later another three tigers were delivered.
The tiger farming grew bigger and bigger – without any tiger being released back into the wild (up until today). Estimations now say that China has at least 7,000 tigers on more than 12 farms across China. Other estimations go even up to 15,000 tigers and 20 farms.
Tiger farming in 2013 by Chris Slappendel. Source: National Geographic.
Although the original idea of the tiger farming might have been conservation, the Chinese mafia realized that the farms were the ultimate solution for the growing problems to get tigers from the neighboring forests.
Farming tigers as an extreme moneymaker
To show the extent of tiger farming it is best to look into this example.
One farm of 1000 tigers can easily have a male-female ratio of 30%. So 700 tigers are female of which (low estimated) 70 percent is fertile (if not too young nor too old – which is easy to manage if you are leading a tiger farm). Let’s assume that 500 tigers can produce litters. A litter is on average 2-3 cubs. A tigress can have two litters per year (with speed breeding) so it safe to assume that an average of 2,5 new tigers per year per female tiger is easy doable. In China it won’t be impossible to double this amount with their knowledge and expertise on speed breeding.
This means that a tiger population in a tiger farm can easily double in one year.
In reality reports about tiger farms (in newspaper or from investigators) always give the same numbers of tigers, despite all new births (of which you see countless pictures on the internet). It is therefore safe to assume that the growth of tigers is being used to serve the demand for Chinese customers.
Considering the turnover of one single tiger (US$ 400,000), one single tiger farm of 1000 tigers can bring a profit of 1000 times US$ 400,000. Each year. Regardless of the stock, which represents an equal value.
Four hundred million US$ per 1000 tigers per year can be described as a fantastic moneymaker.
Money makes China wants to kill tigers
With this in mind we can say that money is the only reason why China wants to kill tigers, whether they come from the wild or from captivity.
Most Chinese citizens like tigers and don’t want them dead, surveys confirm that. Chinese medics and doctors warn about the devastating consequences of TCM, like the extinction of wild animals – which they openly do in newspapers and in brochures. The problem however is not with them although all news stories, gossips and rumors often indicate otherwise.
The one and only problem is the Chinese mafia that controls the tiger trade – in both captive and wild tigers.
CITES has become a paper tiger, especially after the WHO acknowledging TCM as an official medicine.
CITES is being considered a ‘paper tiger’ more and more: an organization that has lost its authority and power, as it obviously can’t stop China from tiger farming.
Especially after the decision of the World Health Organization, another UN organ, the position of CITES has weakened. The World Health Assembly, the governing body of the World Health Organization (WHO), in May of this year formally approved the latest version of its influential global compendium, which includes a chapter on traditional medicine for the first time.
Meaning: TCM is now an official medicine. The biomedical community says the WHO overlooked the toxicity of some herbal medicine and the lack of evidence it works, while animal rights advocates say it will further endanger animals such as the tiger, pangolin, bear and rhino, whose organs are used in some TCM cures.
For CITES it means a blow in the face as it weakens its position as ‘market master’.
Why are Chinese syndicates allowed to continue?
The main question of all this is never asked.
How is it possible that the Chinese triads are allowed to continue, even after so much pressure from CITES and animal welfare organizations on the Chinese government?
In the article the relation with the Chinese army was mentioned before. One of the tiger farms (in Harbin where at least 1200-1400 tigers are living) was established on a (former) military compound. Besides that, more than a thousand companies – owned by the Chinese army – deal with TCM. Reports of investigative organizations tell that a major demand in tiger products comes from the army, where tigers are considered as elements of power.
Part of the international law enforcement community suspects there the Chinese syndicates have ties with members within the Chinese Communist Party – which would explain a lot of the behavior of the Chinese government. Also suspicions are raised about Chinese leaders being customers of wildlife products themselves.
The lack of transparency and limited possibilities for independent research or investigations make it impossible to get to the bottom of these allegations, another reason to doubt the activities within the Chinese government.
What we also see with CITES and with law enforcement, is that attempts to stop tiger farming or increase investigations into syndicates involved in wildlife crime are consequently obstructed by China.
The coming CITES-meetings in Geneva and forthcoming results will be no different.
How to change this unwanted and extinction prone status quo?
The true challenge is how the world can persuade Chinese leaders like Communist Party Leader Xi Jinping to cut ties with syndicates to stop the worldwide trading, breeding and massacre of endangered animals.
To get him doing something, one has to bear in mind that trading is a Chinese invention. It is crucial to realize that China wants something in return.
What has the world to offer to save its precious wildlife?
Sources: A.o. Global Tiger Initiative documents, CNN, Worldbank, Cites.org, EIA-international.org, The Guardian, The New York Times. World Animal Planet, Tombstone (Yang Jisheng), The Making of TCM (Birdie Andrews), Blood Of The Tiger (Judy Mills), Historic distribution and recent loss of tigers in China (Aili KANG c.s.).
The Oklahoma City Zoo staff is saying goodbye to Zoya, a female Amur tiger, who will be arriving at her new home at Minot’s Roosevelt Park Zoo shortly.
Jennifer Kleen, executive director of the Minot Zoo Crew, said when Zoya arrives here she will go through quarantine for a time before she can be seen by the public. She will eventually move into the new tiger facility to be opened at the zoo later this year, Kleen said.
The Minot zoo has two Amur tigers – Viktor, a 7-year-old tiger, and Krapinka, a 19-year-old tiger.
Zoya, an Amur tigress, is being traded with another zoo – again – to prevent her from mating with Sumatran tigers at the Oklahoma zoo.
Now she is moving to the Minot’s Roosevelt Park Zoo, where she will probably get pregnant from the other -male- Amur tiger present.
A Montgomery County zoo will be adding an exhibit for the largest cat in the world after receiving a donation from a garbage collection service. The Elmwood Park Zoo announced Thursday the J.P. Mascaro & Sons Foundation donated $2 million for the addition of a brand new Amur tiger exhibit.
Amur tigers, also known as Siberian tigers, are the largest cats in the world and are a highly threatened species.
The Elmwood Park Zoo says the tigers can still be found in parts of the forest in eastern Russia, parts of China, and possibly North Korea.
If she could, Amanda Ista, a zookeeper at the Milwaukee County Zoo, would make sure every visitor to the zoo got a personalized tour from one of the keepers.
Why? Because a chance to get up close and personal with the animals is awesome? Yes.
But also because the zoo is more than just a fun place to go. Its main purpose is to support and educate about animal conservation.
“One-on-one connections are so important,” Ista said. “Small group tours are catching on at zoos because that’s how we build that generation of people that care enough about the animals to help us help them.”
Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim announced that the city is pledging $2.5 million to be used for the construction of a new habitat for the Amur tigers at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo.
The city’s pledge is the latest input for the tiger habitat fundraising efforts, which kicked off last November with a $1 million pledge by philanthropist Pamela Kochiss Werth. At a ceremony announcing the city’s contribution, the zoo named Ganim an “Official Hero for Tiger Conservation.”
“This is the state’s only zoo,” said Ganim, adding that Connecticut residents “need to know what a great place this is for young people and, as P.T. Barnum said, children of all ages to come and enjoy. It’s a great opportunity to share wildlife and nature.”
Once the tigers were predicted to soon become extinct in the world if effective conservation measures are not deployed, July 29 was observed as a day dedicated to awareness and support worldwide to conserve the tigers whose population dropped dramatically to less than 4,000 individuals in the wild.
Caspian tiger’s roar has not been heard for years
Once upon a time, the Caspian tiger (Panthera tigris virgata) ranged from eastern Turkey through the southern Caspian region of northern Iran to the forested areas in Afghanistan, and northwestern China.
Since the beginning of 19th century, the Caspian tiger was rapidly losing ground to humankind, thus it was deprived of its habitat and prey and soon became a beast in its own territory, so conflicts started to hunt them down as a menace to human settlements.
Therefore, in the mid-20th century, their population whose genetic roots spanned over a million years started to shrink sharply, and finally vanished by the 1950s.
Although, there are reports of the last remaining Caspian tiger which was shot in Golestan National Park in 1953, five years later, some claimed that a tiger has been spotted in Golestan area. The Department of Environment’s experts have tried to find evidence of Caspian tiger existence searching their previous habitats for several years in the early 1970s, but not a single sign has been found.
As a sweltering heat bore down on the Chicago area last week, Brookfield Zoo gave some of its residents what were essentially animal-sized versions of freeze pops to help them keep cool.
The biggest treats went to the zoo’s polar and grizzly bears, who received massive 300-pound blocks of ice filled with a variety of fruit. Animal care staff also provided icy treats to the zoo’s sloth bears, an Amur tiger and a rhinoceros.