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Action to take account of Amur tigers, leopards beginning in Russia’s Far East

January 31, 2015, 3:02 UTC+3 VLADIVOSTOK

The methods applied make it possible to count the number of animals and to identify their gender and age

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© ITAR-TASS/Yuriy Smituk

VLADIVOSTOK, January 31. /TASS/. A one-time action to count Amur tigers and leopards - both species placed in the ‘endangered’ category - begins on Saturday in the Primorsky /Maritime/ and Khabarovsk territories of the Russian Far East, the Director of the Amurskiy Tigr (Amur Tiger) center in the Primorsky territory told TASS.

The action will also embrace the Jewish Autonomous Area and the Amur region, said Sergei Aramilev, the director.

In the period through to February 15, some 2,000 counting specialists employees of wildlife preserves, ecologists and researchers - will register all the traces left by the felines on the snow cover, take measurements in line with special regulations and enter the data into registries.

One of the particular novelties of this year’s counting campaign is a broad use of GPS navigating devices and photo-traps, which make it possible to get veritable data.

"From the point of view of methods, the collection of data on the characteristics of tigers’ paw-prints remains unchanged for more than fifty years, although this time we’ll be able to get more expansive data than previously," Aramilev said.

"For instance, automatic photo cameras have been installed in large land areas like the federal nature conservation zones, in the first place, and they’ll be functioning while the specialists traverse the trails," he said.

All in all, the action will cover 150,000 square kilometers of the taiga in the swathes from the Amur region through to the south of the Primorsky territory, close to the border with North Korea and China. To survey the trails, about 1,500 routes have been mapped out.

This year’s counting will be done stage by stage, as some regions are in the grips of heavy snowstorms, while other regions are likely to see spells of warm weather. The effort will first be taken in the Primorsky territory from January 31 through February 7 and will then move on to other habitats of the Amur tiger.

In the southwestern parts of the Primorsky territory, data on the Amur leopards will be taken simultaneously.

Counting of the population of tigers in the Far East of Russia is done once in ten years. The methods applied make it possible to count the number of animals and to identify their gender and age.

Scientists are expected to make preliminary findings public in May and to publish the final report in October.

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