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About 430-520 Amur tigers live in the Khabarovsk and Primorye territories at present
About 430-520 Amur tigers live in the Khabarovsk and Primorye territories at present, Far Eastern environmentalists said after summing up the results of last winter's counting. More than 20 countries and scientific and public organisations participated in the international operation of environmentalists to count Amur tigers. The main state organisation to order the work was Russia's Ministry of Natural Resources that provided about 1.6 million roubles for it. More than 1,000 people -- hunters, biologists, environmentalists and students -- looked for tracks of the animals, recorded parameters and studied tigers' behavior and feeding. The specialists went more than 21,000 kilometres and registered 4,100 tracks of the animals. The last counting operation was conducted in 1995-96. The number of Amur tigers was estimated at 400-450 in those years. The counting results allow scientists to work out new programmes to preserve the rare species. The World Wildlife Fund organisation in its report issued in Frankfurt also noted that the number of Amur tigers remained stable in Russia in the past ten years, despite poaching and environment damage. The report also cited the figures of 430-530, including 97-112 young tigers, living in forests of the Amur region. The number was 450 in 1990. The report noted that Amur tigers were on the verge of extinction -- there were only 30 tigers in the region. After the ban on hunting was imposed in 1947, the number began to slowly increase. But the animals are still in danger at present. Poachers illegally kill tigers for their fur and bones used in Asian medicine. Though the number has stabilised, Russian scientists express concern. Chopping down of trees, forest fires and human economic activities and development of new territories continue to damage the Amur tiger population areas. Tigers are forced to retreat to nature reserves or areas of extreme conditions for them. Sometimes, there are many animals in one area, and it violates all the known biological laws. A scientist at the Pacific Geography Institute, Dmitri Pikunov, said this at a press conference in Vladivostok. when summing up the counting results. The measures taken at present to protect the animals will not allow increasing the population any more. The number of tigers corresponds to the number of ungulates, but any change in the food amount may result in a sharp decrease of the population. Even too much snow in winter or a poor harvest of cedar nuts is a threat to the number of tigers. Environmentalists believe state support and participation of regional authorities is needed to create new protected areas for animals and jobs for taiga residents. Very important is to change locals' attitude to nature protection. Deputy head of the Russian environment monitoring department for the Far East region Vladimir Andronov said at the press conference that a permanent federal centre should be set up in the Far East to monitor the Amur tiger population. Such a centre will collect and analyse scientific data for state authorities to take decisions for environment protection in the region
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