This year, Tiger Day in the Russian Far East took place for the 15th time on September 28, 2014. I personally participated in the event in 2007 for the first time.
The celebration was initiated by biologist and writer Vladimir Troynin, who was born in the Russian Khabarovsk region, and who worked as a hunting inspector in the Far-Eastern Primorsky region. But his life was also connected with the Arctic and Antarctic research.
The idea of such an action with a costume parade and stage performances with appeals to protect this rare population of big cats – the Amur tigers – inspired various international and domestic NGOs to participate, among them were; IFAW, World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Wildlife Conservation Society Russia (WCS) and the Russian Phoenix Fund. Several years later, the city administration joined the initiative as well.
A cause for celebration! Watch this video of the largest, successful release of Amur tigers.
As for my personal impression, many more people participated in the celebration this time than in the past year. It was very colourful, joyful, festive and exciting as usual. Each year, many people try to invent something new to impress those around them, but some stay true to their previous ideas.
Last year my favourite Tiger Day character was a pug wearing a striped vest, and it was such a nice surprise for me when I saw the dog again walking next to his owner with the IFAW section of the march.
This year we had a very strong team of 270 volunteers, which is a record for us. It’s nice to see that Tiger Day has become a real celebration for many families and for people of all ages’ you can see babies in parents’ hands and elderly people on square at the same time.
At our team booth in the central square of Vladivostok, the volunteers conducted an Amur tiger quiz for visitors to win an IFAW souvenir, distributed badges, stickers, booklets and various other printed materials devoted to tigers.
I should mention a person whose contribution is always really critical…
Ulyana Serduk, postgraduate student of Biology Department of the Far Eastern Federal University, has been helping IFAW to engage the volunteers for the last seven years, and our team wouldn’t have succeeded so much in organising our part of the celebration without her enthusiasm and ability to inspire everybody with her energy.
Each year IFAW traditionally selects two of the best inspectors from specially protected natural reserves of the Primorsky region who participate in the special MIST/SMART program initiated by WCS and Phoenix to participate in an exchange event with Indian colleagues.
This program is aimed at controlling the protected areas and we measure inspector success on the following metrics:
- GPS-registering of violations of the environmental legislation
- unbiased assessment of each inspector’s activity
- distance of his walking
- use of motorised routes and
- the number of detentions performed
Beside the results of the MIST/SMART selection, an inspector also needs to be the top recommendation of his nature reserve director. So we have a double evaluation and get an objective and clear assessment of the inspectors’ job.
This year IFAW handed out the awards for the 10th time and the winners were:
- Sergei Roslavets, state inspector for protection of the Lazovsky natural reserve and the Call of the Tiger national park territories, and
- Ivan Khobotnev, state inspector of the operating group for protection of the Sikhote Alin natural reserve
They were, as usual, awarded a trip to national parks of India to exchange experience with their colleagues and to get a chance to see Bengali tigers in the wild.
The Tiger Day has become a steady tradition. In my opinion, it’s first of all associated with Vladivostok, although it’s now being celebrated in some other cities and towns of the Russian Far East.
I have a feeling that this festival has become some kind of a landmark event for the residents and one of the symbols of the city. Its goal is not just to entertain but also to educate and to unite the people for a good and very important job – Amur tiger protection.
The Tiger Day always takes place on the last weekend of September. Due to some happy tradition there is almost always a sunny day, even if it was raining a day before. A lot of city residents always attend this festival in order to learn how the Amur tigers are doing now, what dangers they are facing, and what everybody could and should do to keep these big cats alive in the wild.
I hope the next year nothing will change, and the Tiger Day will again take place in the central square of Vladivostok to make the activists and spectators feel happy because consistency and optimism are the characteristic features of this celebration.
Article source: IFAW