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
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
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
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 News Agency April 10, 2006)