Organized by: Denis Sherkeev
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the subsequent relaxation of border controls and opening trade routes, the Russian Far East has become a major source of illegal wildlife products to satisfy the consumer markets across the border, especially in China. By the winter of 1993, officials estimated that 60 rare Amur tigers were being poached each year, and that numbers had crashed to fewer than 100, due to a loss of habitat, prey base and poaching. DSWF immediately responded to the crisis helping to save the Amur tiger from certain extinction. And, since 1994, has been jointly funding anti-poaching activities, which are now run by local Russian NGO ‘The Phoenix Fund’. Today, from its base in Vladivostok, The Phoenix Fund supports professionally trained and well-equipped anti-poaching teams who regularly patrol two national parks - Primorye and South of Khabarovsky krai - and investigate smuggling and conflict tiger cases. By the project's tenth anniversary, the wild tiger population had climbed back to a sustainable level of almost 450. Working with other international NGO's in the Amur Leopard and Tiger Alliance (ALTA), DSWF money is sent directly to The Phoenix Fund to support anti-poaching operations with vital equipment such as snow mobiles, radios, jeeps, fuel and rations and paying informants. Funding also supports a strong and growing educational awareness programme , community work, environmental workshops and training programmes . DSWF also supports education and community activities, including 'Tiger Day', a public awareness event which has gone from strength to strength. What began as a small, local event in Vladivostock , Russia in 2000, has grown into one which brings thousands of people, from children to high-level officials, together worldwide in solidarity for the protection of the awesome tiger. This complements educational workshops and camps where teachers and pupils undertake varied, hands-on workshops to learn about the Amur tiger, its habitat and the various issues it faces.