Saving Siberian Tigers: a Challenge for Russian Environmentalists

Russian authorities are taking measures to keep the Siberian tigers safe from poachers

Serghey Berezniuk, winner of the Rolex 2012 prize for entrepreneur spirit, struggles to establish a program which is to assure Siberian tigers' conservation.

Oriental Siberia, an area which includes the land between Vladivostok and the Chinese border of the Sea of Japan, is home to 350 to 500 Panthera Tigris Altaica, commonly known as the Siberian tiger.

It is estimated that there are about 4,000 such tigers living in the world in a wild estate – a fairly insignificant number, if compared to the 100,000 declared in 1900.

Even if tiger hunting has been forbidden even since 1947, poaching is a largely spread action when it comes to Siberian tigers. They are mostly hunted for the aesthetic and spiritual value that comes with the possession of a tiger skin, although there is also a medical reason for it, since parts of tigers' bodies are used in traditional Chinese medicine, as National Geographic reports.

Serghey Berezniuk, director of the environmental ONG Phoenix Fund and a passionate environmentalist, is one of the Siberian tigers' greatest defender in Russia.

His intention is to keep the tigers safe by offering economical and scientific support to the insufficiently trained and equipped anti-poach organizations.

Penalties for tiger poaching are not among the slightest ones. In Russia, the fine for a killed tiger rises up to 2,300 Euro, while for a blessed tiger, a poacher would have to pay 780 Euro.

Siberian tigers are the world's largest felines and a symbol of the Russian natural environment. They are best known for their power and strength, but also for their natural elegance which gives them a scent of nobility. No wonder killing one of the species' member has for centuries seen as an act of almost heroic courage.

Given the level of determination we all know humans get when it comes to their pride and honor, it's hard to believe tigers' hunting on a large scale will suddenly cease out of an ecological reason. Therefore, good thing anti-poaching brigades are getting stronger.

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