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Revival of Endangered Manchurian Tiger
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It's a good day when Chinese scientists find huge, daisy-shaped paw prints in the snow, which gives them proof the world's largest cat, the Manchurian tiger, continues to prowl the forests of Heilongjiang Province in northeast China.
The massive tiger, which can weigh up to 200 kilograms and is three meters from nose to tail, is listed by the World Wildlife Fund as one of the ten most endangered species in the world.
In the sparsely populated province, which shares a border with Russia, wildlife experts believe there are now 14 of the carnivores roaming the dense forests.
For the past two years scientists have been monitoring the population of wild Manchurian tigers and believe their number has nearly doubled since the implementation of comprehensive conservation measures
Paw prints, excrement, resting spots and the remains of prey found in a recent census all serve as evidence that the orange, black and white striped beasts are holding their own.. The survey was conducted by the Academy of Wildlife of Heilongjiang Province.
The tigers' reserved territory covers about 1,200 square kilometers mainly in southeastern mountainous region of Heilongjiang Province which is 70 percent forest covered.
A survey by Chinese, American and Russian experts, organized by the United Nations Development Program, found in 1999 that only five to seven wild Manchurian tigers were known to exist in the province which is their original home.
Currently there about 400 of the tigers in the world. Of these three quarters are in Russia.
The tiger population in China is fewer than 20 while the species is now totally extinct in the Korean Peninsula.
Forest protection zones and nature reserves have been set up in mountainous northeast China where no tourists or industry is permitted. Any construction projects in the experimental zones require environmental appraisal and legal approval.
"The newly launched nature reserve will lays a solid foundation for future cross-border protection of the species." said Sun Haiyi, deputy-director of the provincial Academy of Wildlife.
Since a ban on hunting in the mountain nature reserves went into effect, the number of wild animals including wild deer and boar has increased rapidly, providing ample prey for the tigers, Sun told Xinhua.

(Xinhua News Agency April 10, 2006)

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