Recap of the 2nd Tiger Forum and Plans for the Future
Recap of the 2nd Tiger Forum and Plans for the Future

During the plenary discussion ‘Status of the Implementation of the Global Tiger Recovery Programme for the Period from 2010 to 2022’, which was held as part of the 2nd International Tiger Forum, the countries that are home to this rare predator shared their experience over the past 12 years and their plans for the future.

Russian President Vladimir Putin greeted the Tiger Forum participants with a video message.

“The goal of bolstering international cooperation and exchanging experience with those who have achieved success in the conservation of the tiger is of paramount importance. I am pleased to note the achievements of our colleagues from India, Nepal, Bhutan, and China, where the populations of this large wild cat are growing steadily. In Russia, we also have a lot to be proud of. Twelve years ago, there were no more than 390 adult Amur tigers living in our Far Eastern taiga. Now there are around 750 of them along with their cubs. This is the result of systematic measures that have been implemented at the state level, but above all, it’s a visible manifestation of the well-coordinated, hard work performed by Russian scientists, enthusiasts, and environmental organizations,” Putin said.

Konstantin Chuychenko, who also chairs the Organizing Committee of the 2nd International Tiger Forum as well as the Supervisory Board of the Amur Tiger Centre, delivered a welcome address.

“I would like to express my confidence that this Forum will boost the international community’s attention to the issue of tiger conservation. We truly need to act together because the tiger is a wonderful noble predator that knows no borders between states. So we can only achieve success through our collective efforts. We must work together to address the threats that continue to exist today. And I think together we will win,” Chuychenko said.

In his speech, Russian Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Alexander Kozlov noted that over the past 12 years not only has the tiger population grown, but the habitat of this rare predator has also expanded. Whereas in the past only the Primorye region and the Khabarovsk Territory were home to tigers, the predators now live in the Jewish Autonomous Region and the Amur Region. The range of their habitat has increased to almost 186,000 square kilometres.

“Thirteen countries are the guardians of the last remaining tigers in the wild. The predator’s future truly depends on all of us and each of us. We are obligated to maintain a balance and treat all living things with respect,” Kozlov said.

During the recap of the last 12 years of tiger conservation activities, the measures taken in Russia were announced. Liability for crimes against tigers were introduced to the criminal code in 2013, and the punishment for these crimes was toughened in 2019. A system to protect tigers and their food supply has been created by the services that are in charge of protecting wildlife in the regions inhabited by the rare predator. New specially protected natural areas have been created. Work is under way to resolve conflicts involving tigers and humans, and a programme has been introduced to compensate farmers who suffer losses from the actions of tigers. A system for the rehabilitation and reintroduction of the tiger is also functioning, and large-scale awareness work is under way.

Chuychenko and Kozlov announced the goals over the next 12 years to protect the Amur tiger in Russia.

“Today, we have reached a comfortable number of animals. Now the goal is to expand the tiger’s range and get closer to its historical borders. The increased density of tigers leads to more conflict situations with humans. Overall, the so-called ‘games with Amur tiger numbers’ have not had very good results because the tiger determines its own density. And if tigers feel cramped, they simply don’t get along with each other, but spread out, as they say,” Chuychenko said.

In addition, when it comes to protecting tigers, he noted that it is crucial to understand that they are at the top of the food chain and we must consider the state of the taiga and forests in which they live as well as the ungulates, which form the basis of their diet, to ensure that they can live and reproduce comfortably. Russia’s Hunting Surveillance Service (Okhotnadzor), which is the primary defender of the tiger and is currently well equipped, should not be disregarded. In 2020, Okhotnadzor opened a property complex in Ussuriysk, and a similar complex will be built in the Khabarovsk Territory in the near future.

Kozlov stressed that tigers do not know national borders, so it is important to strengthen cooperation with border countries through specially protected natural areas. At present, Russia and China are discussing the creation of the Land of Big Cats transboundary reserve. Today, it is already home to 25 predators. Special attention needs to be paid to the risks that tigers face and ways to minimize them when developing projects and programmes for the socioeconomic development of the Far East, which may affect lands that do not have a protected status, but are included in the tiger’s home range.

Pine nuts will be included in the List of Strategically Important Goods and Resources, which will effectively combat the smuggling of pine nuts across the customs border of the Eurasian Economic Union and, consequently, affect its production volume and reduce it to an optimal level

Particular attention will be paid to combatting poaching. The further tightening of penalties for crimes against rare animals and harmonizing laws against violators as much as possible in all countries where tigers roam will help improve the situation.

Tigers held in captivity in adverse conditions also need to be addressed. Plans are in the works on a truly effective mechanism to prosecute people for animal cruelty.

North Korea

Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the Russian Federation Sin Hong Chol noted that the tiger is a symbol of the Korean nation and that North Korea is working to significantly restore its habitat and create a legal framework for the protection of rare and endangered animals. North Korea advocates cooperation between border states for the sake of the tiger, primarily with Russia and China.

India

Satya Prakash Yadav, member secretary of India’s National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), shared his positive experience in preserving and increasing the tiger population in India, where the tiger population has doubled over the past 12 years.

“India is the country with the largest number of tigers in the world, where the tiger is the national animal. We are home to approximately 70% of the entire population. Since 2010, we have seen stable growth. It is growing by about 6% per year,” Yadav said.

In an effort to maintain and increase the tiger population, India believes it is essential to pay special attention to sources of clean water. During the reporting period, approximately 350 different sources of water pollution were eliminated in the country, which significantly contributed to conserving the population of this species of predators.

India has been engaged in tiger conservation efforts since 1973 and is currently home to 52 reserves, which cover 40% of its range in India. These substantial results in increasing the number tigers have been achieved thanks to a combination of various measures: taking into account the best practices for tiger conservation, monitoring the use of camera traps, recording the mortality rate of all tigers, working with reserve staff, a special methodology used to record all conflicts between humans and tigers, special standards to combat smuggling, and a strategy of buffer zones and corridors for tigers.

Almost every year, the Indian government allocates USD 60–80 million for these measures, of which USD 4.5 million are spent on creating jobs.

The number of tigers has now increased and, given India’s population, conflict resolution is one of the most difficult tasks in managing their population. India has established special requirements and protocols for this purpose that indicate what people should do if tigers enter the areas where they live. There is also a warning system in place and special groups that are deployed to the sites of conflict situations.

Myanmar

Myanmar estimates that it is home to 36 tigers. Myanmar Minister of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation Khin Maung Yi spoke about the measures his country has taken to protect tigers.

“We are actively engaged in the conservation of the tiger population using modern technologies and work together with international government organizations and NPOs that combat the illegal capture and trade of tigers. Myanmar now has 58 protected areas, which cover almost half of the country’s total area. Tigers inhabit 7% of the country’s territory. Myanmar has developed a national tiger protection programme that aims to increase its population,” Yi said.

The country needs USD 10 million to fully implement its national tiger conservation plan for the period until 2028 and currently has earmarked roughly half of this amount.

Nepal

Ram Chandra Kandel, Director General of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation within the Nepalese Ministry of Forestry and Environment, also shared his country’s successful experience with tiger conservation. Nepal is one of the leaders in terms of the growth of this rare predator’s population numbers. In 2010, Nepal was home to 120–150 tigers and set the goal of doubling their population.

“Over these past 12 years, we not only managed to double the tiger population, but also surpassed these figures. Today, we have over 300 tigers. This is indeed a great achievement. In our country, there are three main protected areas where tigers live. They make up 23% of the country’s territory,” Kandel said.

Nepal has been involved in biodiversity conservation since the 1970s. Since 2010, it has intensified its tiger protection measures. The growth in tiger population has been possible due to the use of various mechanisms, including combatting illegal trade in tigers at the highest political level and protecting the boundaries of national parks. Nepal has also paid much attention to working with local residents affected by tigers. The country has developed special compensation mechanisms to make payments to the population if tigers damage their crops or kill livestock. Nepal works closely with India to protect and increase the tiger population.

Having achieved these results, Nepal plans to focus its efforts on maintaining the food supply for tigers, expanding their range, protecting the boundaries of national parks, as well as minimizing any damage caused to tigers by infrastructure development.

Thailand

Thailand faces a difficult situation with its tiger population due to their illegal capture and the trade of their body parts, as well as insufficient food supply in a number of protected areas. The current population is estimated at 148–189 tigers. The country plans to work to maintain the quality of its existing tiger habitats, while expanding other areas where the striped predators have not been sighted in the past 10 years. The country is also considering the possibility of reintroducing tigers. 

Laos

Laos is a member country of the Forum, although tigers have disappeared there completely over the past 12 years, unfortunately. However, the state is not giving up and plans to reintroduce tigers. Laos has already allocated 70% of forest areas to support a new tiger population and plans to use predators that are being held in captivity to achieve this goal. It is also working actively to raise awareness among the population and eliminate hunting for these rare animals.

Laotian Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Thongphath Vongmany noted that his country is closely cooperating with all countries within the tiger home range and is trying to comply with international standards and requirements in matters concerning protected natural areas. Laos has made improvements to its environmental protection legislation for this purpose.

Bangladesh

Bangladesh has seen a slight increase in its tiger population. As of 2018, the country was home to 114 tigers, an 8% increase from 2014. Based on estimates of the available food supply, up to 200 tigers could live in the forests of Bangladesh.

Amir Hosain Chowdhury, the chief forest officer at the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change of Bangladesh, said the country’s prime minister is making every effort to conserve forests and biodiversity.

“The Bangladesh government has amended its constitution and designated 18 territories as specially protected areas. In 2012, Bangladesh passed the Wildlife Protection Act and introduced severe criminal penalties for killing tigers. A national tiger conservation committee was also established under the auspices of the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change. Since 2020, tree felling has been reduced in these territories and the area of ​​land on which hunting is allowed has been decreased,” Chowdhury said.

Bangladesh is also implementing various measures to resolve conflict situations between tigers and humans. In 2021, a reporting system was launched in which people can report such cases and receive assistance.

Vietnam

Pham Van Dien, deputy general director of the Administration of Forestry of the Vietnamese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said roughly 30 tigers live in seven protected areas in the country.

Dien also spoke about how Vietnam has introduced new legislation to protect the tiger. In 2018, a law criminalizing poaching came into force. In 2014, the country adopted a national tiger protection programme for 2018–2020.

“Tigers can move across very large areas, and we border on China, Cambodia, and Laos. This is all tiger range, so it is crucial for us to cooperate and join efforts to preserve the tiger population despite the borders between the countries,” Dien said.

Cambodia

In Cambodia, just like in Laos, the tiger is technically considered to be extinct. A reintroduction programme needs to be developed and implemented in order to restore the tiger population. At present, the country has allocated two protected zones with total area of ​​10,000 square kilometres, which can be used to reintroduce the animals. To this end, Cambodia plans work closely with the border countries of the tiger range, NPOs, and international environmental organizations, as well as step up interaction with local communities. The Cambodia representative also proposed establishing a special fund to finance tiger conservation projects, equip transboundary corridors for the movement of tigers, and improve the quality of monitoring.

Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan also intends to launch a tiger reintroduction programme. The Kazakh Ministry of Ecology, Geology, and Natural Resources signed a memorandum of cooperation on this issue with the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment during the Tiger Forum.

“For Kazakhstan, this is actually a very large programme. As a member of the Convention on the Conservation of Biodiversity, we care about the conservation and restoration of ecosystem. Considering that the tiger was still present on the territory of Kazakhstan in the middle of the last century, we have decided to recreate and reintroduce the tiger population in the exact same area where it existed before. We are at the beginning of our journey now,” Deputy Minister of Ecology, Geology, and Natural Resources Aliya Shalabekova said. 

The representative of Kazakhstan expressed hope that by 2025, the country will create a sufficient food supply base and restore the forests needed to reintroduce the tiger. The programme has been under development since 2010. At present, a special protected natural area has been created in Kazakhstan near Lake Balkhash, with a total area of ​​415,000 hectares. Today, this reserve is home to around 45 mammal species, 280 bird species, and 420 plant species. Amur tigers native to Primorye are expected to be the first striped predators to set foot on these lands.

The final document of the 2nd International Tiger Forum was the Declaration on Tiger Restoration and Conservation. It was adopted by all the Forum participants.

DECLARATION IN ENGLISH

DECLARATION IN RUSSIAN

A recording of the plenary session is available at: tigerforum2022.com/programme/business-programme 

The 2nd International Tiger Forum was organized by the Russian Ministry of Justice, the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the Amur Tiger Centre, and the Roscongress Foundation.

Photo by Stanislav Krasilnikov / TASS Host Photo Agency