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Chinese Volunteers to Clear Tiger Traps
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More than 100 Chinese volunteers will clear away traps set by poachers to ensure that endangered Siberian tigers aren’t threatened during the winter in their home territory in northeast China.


The trap clearing campaign is being sponsored by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), a New York-based non-profit organization, the China Wildlife Conservation Association and local wildlife authorities in Heilongjiang and Jilin provinces in northeast China.


From January 21-25 volunteers will clear iron ring traps -- set by poachers to catch the Siberian tigers during the winter -- from areas where the animals roam.


Eighty people from Jilin, Heilongjiang, Beijing and Shanghai have signed up to help clear the traps since November 30. They include teachers, college students and company workers.


According to a WCS source the volunteers, aged between 20 and 45, should be animal protectionists, in good health, have experience of fieldwork and the mental strength to deal with the harsh environment.


Siberian tigers, also known as Amur or Manchurian tigers, are among the world's 10 most endangered species. Their habitat is in northeast China and the Far East area of Russia. Of the 400 estimated to remain in the wild only 10 to 17 are in northeast China.


Although the Chinese government has stepped up efforts to protect the magnificent endangered species poachers continue to attempt to catch the large cats to sell their hides.


Statistics show that more than 300 Siberian tigers were hunted in Heilongjiang and Jilin provinces in the 35 years from 1949-1984. There have been frequent reports of illegal poaching in the two provinces in recent years.


The WCS source said the purpose of launching the trap clearing campaign was to raise public awareness of the need for better protection of the tigers.


(Xinhua News Agency December 6, 2006)

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