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26 Nov, 2009 20:07

Rare Amur tigers critically endangered - report

A new report says the number of endangered Amur tigers in Russia's Far East has fallen by around 40 percent.

Results from an annual survey conducted by the Wildlife Conservation Society, an environmental group based in New York, together with several Russian organizations, has shown a 41 percent drop in the Amur tiger population from its average over the past 12 years.

The organization detected only 56 animals during a monitoring program, a drop they blamed on increased poaching in the region and the loss of habitat.

“The most dramatic decline happened in this last winter, 2009, where on our survey units there were dramatically fewer tigers than any of the past years,” Dale G. Miquelle, head of the society’s Russia Far East program, was quoted as saying by The New York Times. “It’s time to react.”

But Vladimir Krever from the World Wildlife Fund says it is too soon to confirm the figures.

“It's premature to mention a 40% decline in the Amur tiger population,” he said. “Tigers are counted in winter. It should be pointed out that deep snows during the last three winters in Russia's Far East have reduced the animals’ activity, making them less detectable. Therefore, the surveys results may well have been understated.”

Read also Putin's tiger healthy and happy with new GPS collar