The Siberian or « Amur » tiger is the biggest species of felines. Averaging 200kg and 3 meters long, with a head the size of a human rib cage, it is the most perfect land predator on the planet. Almost extinct in the 30s, the species made an extraordinary come back during the Soviet Union, when closed boundaries reduced the trade of tiger parts between Russia and China. After the reopening of the borders, poaching and commerce of tiger parts restarted. From the 500 animals present in the Far East at the end of the Perestroika, it has been estimated that 350 descendants survive today. However, reliable statistics are difficult to obtain in a partially corrupted system.
As a Photojournalist, I wanted to have a better understanding of tiger conservation, starting in a small, and independent from any World Fund, reserve located 1,5 hours away from Vladivostok, the Ussurisk Reserve (or ‘Zapovednik’). There, a team of 40 people works to protect and study a rare Korean Pine primary forest and its major host, the Amur Tiger. The life of rangers in the Zapovednik is a solitary one. Despite the Spartan conditions, they are dedicated and have a genuine faith in their mission.
Finally, year after year, statistics show that the Siberian tiger is the favorite animal of the public, so if we are not able to save what we like the most, what on earth can we save?
1 août 2015