Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Tiger survival: mapping poaching and trafficking hotspots

The case of ‘Putin’s tiger’ recently put poaching into the media spotlight. In India, a new modelling exercise is helping to tackle the crime by mapping areas where tigers are most at risk

The case of the ‘Putin’s tiger’, Kuzya, has brought the dangers of poaching back into the spotlight. Russian president Vladimir Putin released the 19-month-old Siberian tiger in a remote forest in May this year. Five months later, one week ago, Kuzya swam across the frigid waters of the Amur river into China

The event set diplomatic lines jangling. China scrambled to dismantle poachers’ traps and set up more than 60 camera traps in the area.

Kuzya and his siblings were orphaned after their mother fell victim to a poacher two years ago. Illegal hunting is one of the most serious threats to tigers; a dead tiger is said to be worth $10,000 (£6,300).

Even though Indian tigers rarely wander into China, they are in grave danger too. Poachers are more interested in tiger bones, an ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine, than pelts.

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