Harbin, China, hosted the International Forum on Tiger and Leopard Transboundary Conservation. Vorontsov Land of the Leopard was represented at the event by Yury Darman (PhD in Biology), deputy director for research. The forum brought together more than 300 experts from 19 countries.
The forum included a special symposium dedicated to the development of cross-border cooperation in Northeast Asia. Speaking at the session, Darman noted that the total population of Amur tigers has already reached 600 animals on the back of joint efforts, including 50 tigers that formed a distinct population, known as the East-Manchurian population, in the southwest Primorye Territory and the adjacent Northeast Tiger and Leopard National Park. Experts also believe that there are more than 120 leopards in this area.
Participants in the forum adopted the Harbin Consensus to promote deeper cross-border cooperation in keeping with the declaration signed by the presidents of Russia and China on 5 June 2019.
UNESCO’s North-East Asian Subregional Programme for Environmental Cooperation (NEASPEC) devoted a special workshop to this topic. In 2015-2017, Land of the Leopard took part in the first project to study the movement of tigers and leopards between the neighbouring protected areas of Russia and China. Building on these initiatives, a decision was taken to prepare a new project to support efforts under the action plan for 2020-2021, agreed by Land of the Leopard and Northeast Tiger and Leopard National Park within the framework of their bilateral cooperation agreement.
Darman also gave an hour-long presentation at a training session on managing national parks organised by China’s National Forestry Administration in Hunchun. The event consisted of presentations by leading experts from the United States, Canada, India and Costa Rica for the staff of the newly established Northeast Tiger and Leopard National Park.
Professor Jianping Ge talks about the creation of Northeast Tiger and Leopard National Park
“After the session, we visited the new tiger and leopard monitoring centre, where prominent Professor Jianping Ge, who is the founding father of the new national park, talked about how it was established and the challenges they had to overcome. What amazed us the most was the national park’s automated data collection system. It consists of 1,500 camera traps that transmit information online on every animal spotted to dedicated receiving towers, from where data are instantly transferred by cable to the monitoring centre. An AI neural network enables computers not only to identify the animal species, but also the exact tiger or leopard,” Darman pointed out.
Near the monitoring centre: Professor Jianping Ge, Ullas Karanth (developer of the photo monitoring system), Yury Darman and Feng Limin (centre director)
He went on to say that the operator gets this information two and a half minutes after it is recorded. This is a pilot project for the Chinese government, and these methods could be used in all national parks that are being created across the country. Experts believe that moving forward this software could help harmonise and synchronise data obtained from camera traps in Land of the Leopard and Northeast Tiger and Leopard National Park.