In late January, Hunchun (China) hosted a Russia-China competition of nature reserve and national park rangers. The event was supported by China's Northeast Tiger and Leopard National Park, WWF China and WWF Russia. Seventeen teams competed. Russia was represented by three members of Land of the Leopard's security department.
"This is the second time Land of the Leopard rangers have participated in the ranger competition in China. Our team took first place in the first competition, in 2016, and now they went as guests of honour to share their experience. These meetings with our Chinese colleagues are indeed important as we are preparing to create a Russian-Chinese cross-border nature reserve," said Viktor Bardyuk, director of Land of the Leopard.
The Russian rangers did not participate in the general competition because it included a round on Chinese law; however, they demonstrated their skills during the field stage. Ilya Kulichenko, Dan Struzhkin and Dmitry Vodolagin succeeded in GPS terrain navigation, remote patrolling, trail camera installation and detaining violators.
"It is the second competition for our team," said Ilya Kulichenko, a ranger at Land of the Leopard. "This year, there were many interesting aspects of the competition. The field stage was unusual due to the lack of snow. Although it was easy to follow the route, it was quite difficult to find brown paper ropes (poachers' snares), which are almost invisible. I also would like to note that Russian and Chinese rangers use different operation methods. In Russia we often have to deal with armed poachers, and our work poses a certain risk to life. Chinese poachers mostly use snares and traps to catch wild animals."
Based on the results of the knowledge test and fieldwork, the Hunchun forest management team took first place, followed by the Wangqing forest management team and rangers of the Hunchun National Nature Reserve. The winning teams represent the territories that border Land of the Leopard National Park, areas where rare animals are often seen crossing the Russia-China border.