Wild Siberian tiger images

[Those wild animals that were once endangered]

In October 2021, at the 15th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity held in Kunming, Yunnan, President Xi Jinping announced the official establishment of the first batch of five national parks in my country, and the Siberian Tiger and Leopard National Park was among them.

Why did my country establish the Siberian Tiger and Leopard National Park?

How do wild tigers spread and multiply populations?

In order to protect the wild tiger population, what explorations have scientific researchers carried out?

After the "Return of the King, What Has Been Experienced in the Research and Protection of Wild Tigers in China" (February 26, 2022, 09 edition, Guangming Daily), this edition invites you to track tigers and leopards for 16 years in the forest, sea and snowfield, and have a "savage professor" Feng Limin, an associate professor and doctoral supervisor of the School of Life Sciences of Beijing Normal University, continues to tell you the story of the "Return of the King" of China's wild tigers...

Population spread "step by step"

Reporter: How do wild tiger populations reproduce and spread?

Feng Limin:

According to our team's more than 10 years of positioning observation and research, in the wild, adult tigers need to have their own territory before they can breed; the territories of adult tigers of the same sex do not overlap each other. The sum of the territory of the female tigers; the cubs are generally raised by the tigress to one and a half to two years old, and then leave the place of birth to establish their own territory and reproduce.

  Generally speaking, there are three diffusion modes of tigress: first, the "daughter" leaves the birthplace after two years of growth and establishes her own territory around the tigress; second, the tigress cedes part of her territory to "Daughter"; the third type, the tigress gives the territory to the "daughter", and then goes to the adjacent area to rebuild the territory.

The recovery of tiger populations mainly depends on the reproduction of female tigers. The above three diffusion patterns of female tigers tell us that the recovery of wild tiger populations is not achieved overnight, but "step by step" from the provenance, and spreads in waves, not all at once. Just jump hundreds of kilometers away.

  If there is a tiger infested far away from the provenance, it is usually a male tiger.

Male tigers grow far away from their birthplaces to avoid inbreeding—according to the law of female tigers' proliferation, their birthplaces and surrounding areas are basically their own close relatives.

In 2013, we monitored a male tiger born in the Leopard Land National Park in Russia. After it grew up, it entered the territory of China and traveled westward across the Siberian Tiger and Leopard National Park to the Huangnihe River in the Zhangguangcai Mountain area. Hailin, Tokyo City and other places have been active so far, with a spread of more than 250 kilometers.

Reporter: What is the main reason that the wild tiger population cannot recover quickly?

Feng Limin:

From 2010 to 2016, we monitored nine litters of 24 Siberian tiger cubs in China, with a total of 2.7 cubs per litter.

This data is basically the same as the reproduction rate of large populations of wild tigers (more than 100 or more) in Russia, Nepal and other countries, or even higher, which proves that the reproduction capacity of the Siberian tiger population in my country is normal.

However, it is very difficult for tiger cubs to grow up. Only about 70% of cubs survive for more than one year, and 33% of cubs survive for more than two years to adulthood. This means that a female tiger has three cubs in one litter, and only one of them will survive. grow up successfully.

It can be seen that the low adult rate of cubs is the main reason why the wild tiger population cannot recover quickly.

  Why don't most Siberian tiger cubs survive to adulthood?

We know that the main food of tigers is medium and large ungulates, and if their distribution density in the wild is low, it will be difficult for tigresses to capture enough food to feed their cubs.

Understory grazing and extensive human disturbance are responsible for the low density of large and medium ungulates in the wild.

Among them, grazing activities in the forest will directly compete with herbivores, the main prey of tigers and leopards, while a large number of human disturbances including reclamation will break the food chain, threatening the food security of the breeding tigress, and raising the young tigers. Growing up brings risks.

Members of the research team measure paw prints.

Habitat requirements are unusual

Reporter: What conditions must be met for the population of Siberian tigers and leopards to achieve stable reproduction?

Feng Limin:

An adult tiger needs to prey on about 50 large and medium-sized herbivores every year.

Only when the population of large and medium-sized herbivores reaches about 500, can an annual increase of 50 animals be generated for a tiger to prey on, and it will not lead to the gradual decline of the entire herbivore population.

The 500 large and medium-sized herbivore populations need to consume a lot of plant food resources every year, which requires good vegetation and a healthy and complete ecosystem to support.

Therefore, in the sparsely populated Russian Far East, a female tiger's territory can reach about 300 square kilometers, mainly because the density of prey here is lower than that in the south.

It should be emphasized that the size of the territory of a female tiger is closely related to the abundance of the food chain - in well-protected areas, the biomass is high, and the required territory is small; in poorly protected areas, the number of prey is small and the required territory is small. The area is greatly increased.

  To achieve long-term and stable reproduction of the Siberian tiger population, it requires not only a large area of ​​connected habitats and a complete forest landscape, but also a healthy vegetation structure, rich biodiversity and a complete food chain, as well as an undisturbed breeding environment. It means that we must protect the Siberian tiger from the perspective of the overall protection of the ecosystem and the overall restoration of biodiversity.

Only when the vast forests in Northeast my country are sustainably preserved and the "king of forests" at the top of the ecological pyramid return to their hometowns to live freely can we truly achieve the goal of protecting wild Siberian tigers.

Reporter: After we have an in-depth understanding of the Siberian tiger's wild survival laws, how should we proceed with the Siberian tiger protection plan?

Feng Limin:

The survival of the Siberian tiger requires a large area of ​​well-protected habitat, so it needs to be protected at the ecosystem level, which requires comprehensive consideration of social development, scientific research, and the harmonious coexistence of humans and wild animals. at the national level.

In 2015, a highway and a high-speed railway planned and constructed by Jilin Province were originally scheduled to cross the main habitat of the Siberian tiger and leopard spreading to the inland of my country. Once completed, it will become an insurmountable barrier, blocking its return route.

After relevant experts put forward suggestions, Jilin Province attached great importance to it, canceling the planned expressway and diverting the high-speed railway, which well maintained the integrity of the key habitat of tigers and leopards and the smoothness of the dispersal route.

  Since then, the conservation process of Siberian tigers and leopards has moved forward at a speed far exceeding our expectations.

In May 2015, the "Suggestions on Implementing Major Ecological Projects for Restoration and Protection of Siberian Tigers and Siberian Leopards in China" based on our team's more than 10 years of scientific research results were submitted to the central committee through the Central Committee of the China Democratic League.

In December 2016, the 30th meeting of the Central Leading Group for Comprehensively Deepening Reform reviewed and approved the "Pilot Program for the System of the Northeast Tiger and Leopard National Park".

The Siberian Tiger and Leopard National Park, which my country has decided to establish, covers an area of ​​14,600 square kilometers and is the largest wild tiger reserve in the world.

Following the natural science laws of population restoration, the Siberian Tiger and Leopard National Park will achieve overall protection and systematic restoration on the basis of ensuring the connectivity, coordination and integrity of the habitat.

Since then, the fate of wild Siberian tigers in my country has ushered in a real turning point.

The research team conducts fieldwork.

Technology "armed", protection upgrade

Reporter: What advanced methods are used in the restoration of tiger and leopard populations, restoration of ecosystems, monitoring and management in such a large national park?

Feng Limin:

The construction of national parks in the new era marks that China's nature protection has entered a new stage.

In the past, most nature reserves in my country were scattered and small, usually only tens or hundreds of square kilometers.

Today, national parks can protect large areas of important ecosystems, usually thousands or even tens of thousands of square kilometers. The focus of protection has also risen from species rescue protection to restoration at the level of large ecosystems, emphasizing the integrity of ecological processes, including food chains, biodiversity nature and even the restoration of the entire ecological element.

This puts forward higher requirements for the precise connection and matching of scientific research monitoring and protection management.

  Most of the national parks are located in high mountains, remote locations and weak transportation infrastructure.

"Communication relies on roaring, patrolling relies on walking, and cold protection relies on shaking", which is a true portrayal of the backwardness of my country's nature conservation management in the past.

It is difficult for traditional scientific research monitoring methods, theoretical systems and conservation practices to keep up with the actual needs of national park construction.

Without the modernization of national parks, the management of large areas will continue to be rough and inefficient.

  In the field of informatization and intelligence, the rapid development of modern science and technology and the interdisciplinary integration of multiple disciplines have provided a good foundation and opportunity for the modernization of national parks in the new era.

The tiger and leopard research team of Beijing Normal University, led by Professor Ge Jianping, started a new exploration to study how to "arm" the Northeast Tiger and Leopard National Park with modern technology.

After several years of experiments and demonstrations, we have integrated modern communications, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, big data analysis and other technologies to form an integrated monitoring system for the sky, ground and air in the Northeast Tiger and Leopard National Park.

This monitoring system can not only monitor the activities of wild animals such as Siberian tigers and leopards in real time in a long-distance and large area, but also obtain information on biodiversity, various ecological elements and human activities in real time.

Every day, a large amount of monitoring data is transmitted to the background in real time through modern communication networks, and artificial intelligence is used for big data analysis. Researchers and national park managers directly implement management based on the various types of accurate data obtained. Well managed, well built."

In 2018, after the successful pilot test of the system, the National Forestry and Grass Administration quickly promoted it to the entire Siberian Tiger and Leopard National Park after expert demonstrations and suggestions.

At present, this monitoring system has covered a large area in the Northeast Tiger and Leopard National Park, and has obtained a total of 30,000 tiger and leopard, more than 10 million video data of wildlife, human activities and habitats, allowing researchers to understand the dynamics of the research objects in real time. It also allows managers to accurately manage the 14,600-square-kilometer park in real time.

  During the short 4-year pilot period, the Siberian Tiger and Leopard National Park has undergone tremendous changes, including: further improvement of ecosystem quality, continuous reduction of grazing and other human disturbance activities, rapid increase in the population of herbivores such as sika deer, and rapid growth of the food chain Recovery, the adult rate of Siberian tiger cubs has increased from 33% before the pilot to more than 50% now; the distribution range and number of tiger and leopard populations have grown rapidly. At present, more than 50% of the national parks have stable tiger and leopard populations. The Hunchun area in the core area of ​​the park presents the historical grand occasion of "every mountain has a tiger".

The above changes have witnessed our innovation and practice in carrying out scientific protection.

  In order to continue to consolidate the scientific and technological support of the national park, the National Forestry and Grass Administration and the Ministry of Science and Technology approved the establishment of the Northeast Tiger and Leopard Monitoring and Research Center and other institutions at Beijing Normal University.

Today, a scientific support platform of "a comprehensive research platform, a monitoring system, and a field scientific research base" has been formed, which can not only collect scientific data on Siberian tigers and leopards and biodiversity for a long time, support the daily management of national parks, but also provide It provides a platform for scientific and technological innovation and personnel training in the field of nature conservation in my country.

At the same time, the Northeast Tiger and Leopard Biodiversity Research Platform has become a national popular science education base, dedicated to carrying out ecological education for young people, allowing the public to participate and experience, helping the sustainable development of local communities, and exploring the realization of national parks shared by all.

  Siberian Tiger and Leopard National Park, more exciting things are going on...

(Reporter Zhang Lei of this newspaper)

(The photos in this article are provided by the Haobao research team of Beijing Normal University)

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