Monitoring Amur Leopards and Tigers in Northeast China (WCS)

Wildlife Conservation Society- China Program.

Project Name: Continuing and Expanding a Monitoring Program for Amur Tigers and Leopards in Northeast China

© WCS China

Location: Hunchun Nature Reserve, Jilin Province, China

Goal: To assess current populations of Amur tigers and leopards in and around Hunchun Nature Reserve

Objective 1: Continue and expand camera trapping of Amur leopards and tigers in Hunchun Nature Reserve.
Objective 2: Snow track tigers and leopards to learn about behavior and movement patterns.
Objective 3: Test utility of camera traps to record human disturbance.
Objective 4: Collaborate with the WCS Russia Program on trans-boundary monitoring.

Background:  Hunchun Nature Reserve was created in 2001 after research and recommendations from WCS showed that this area provides a narrow but vital foothold for tigers entering China from the larger, adjacent population in Russia, and it is therefore the key link in the return and recovery of tigers in northeast China.

Until recently, the population sizes of these endangered big cats in and around Hunchun Nature Reserve in northeast China were impossible to determine accurately. The occasional pugmark of a transient tiger or leopard could not be distinguished from one of a possible resident. Camera trap technology has significantly changed this situation. Now, camera traps placed in strategic locations can capture images of both tigers and leopards that can be compared to previous images, as both species can be individually identified with certainty by their pelage.

Previous projects that have recorded and identified at least five adult tigers and two leopards, giving a defensible baseline population number for the region. We have learned that some tigers are very likely residents, and breeding has almost certainly occurred.

The final report for the 2014 monitoring in Norttheast China project can be found here