The Siberian Tiger
Almost all wild Siberian tigers live the Southeast corner of Russia in the Sikhote-Alin mountain range east of the Amur River. Their former range included northeastern China and the Korean Peninsula, and as far west as Mongolia. They are the largest of the tiger species and can grow up to 13 feet in length and weigh up to 700 lbs.
It is estimated the wild population of Siberian tigers at around 350-450 tigers.
The Siberian –or Amur- tiger is considered a critically endangered species with the primary threats to its’ survival in the wild being poaching and habitat loss from intensive logging and development.
Tigers are most commonly poached for their fur and for their body parts used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is estimated that in 1991 alone, one-third of the Siberian tiger population was killed to meet the demand for their bones and other parts used in this practice. This even though the practice is now unlawful in China.
In 1993 the State Council of the People’s Republic of China issued a notice declaring the use of tiger bone for medicinal purposes to be illegal. The Chinese government encouraged the Ministry of Public Health and the pharmaceutical companies to seek substitute medicines for tiger parts.
However, because it is such a lucrative trade –a single tiger can bring up to $50k on the International market- the practice is still flourishing.
The other vital concern for the survival of the Siberian tiger in the wild is habitat loss.
Research has demonstrated the Siberian tigers require vast forest landscapes to survive. However logging, both legal and illegal is threatening the tigers home by fragmenting their habitat thereby isolating them from each other. In addition, the continuous creation of new logging roads provide poachers with access to formerly remote areas.
So in essence, for the Siberian tiger to survive in the wild, and no longer be considered and endangered species, two things must happen. First, habitat encroachment must stop and secondly, the thousands of years old tradition of using tiger parts for medicinal purposes must also end.
These are formidable requirements.