Sikhote Alin Forests, Russia

Sikhote Alin Forests, Russia Photo
The vast temperate forests of the Sikhote-Alin Landscape are also the last stronghold of the Siberian tiger.
©John Goodrich
Wildlife Crimes Unit Slideshow
Tigers are fast disappearing in the wild, due in large part to increasing illegal wildlife trade across Asia.  Our Wildlife Crimes Unit is working to support the arrest and prosecution of poachers and wildlife traders so that we can ensure a future for these cats in some of their last strongholds. Take a look at what WCS conservationists working throughout tiger territory have come across in their surveys and patrols.
Tiger Rescue Operations Photo
Police display confiscated tiger skin with other seized animal skins and body parts in Indonesia. The country is Southeast Asia’s largest exporter of wildlife, both legal and illegal.
Tiger Rescue Operations Photo
Many of the wildlife pelts and other items that are poached in Indonesia are part of complex trade chains, which often terminate in illegal markets in China.
Tiger Rescue Operations Photo
The Wildlife Crimes Unit provides technical assistance to Indonesian police conducting anti-poaching raids.
©WCS Indonesia
Tiger Rescue Operations Photo
This tiger was caught in a snare in northern Sumatra, a hotspot for the big cats in Indonesia, and therefore a draw for poachers.
©WCS Indonesia
Tiger Rescue Operations Photo
In addition to tigers, tons of turtles are also exported from Indonesia on a weekly basis, and about 1.5 million wild-caught birds are sold in a market every year in Java.
©WCS Indonesia
Tiger Rescue Operations Photo
Tiger bones in Sumatra are sold as souvenirs and talismans, and ground up or boiled down for use as ingredients in traditional medicines.
©WCS Indonesia
Tiger Rescue Operations Photo
Tiger pelts are considered a status symbol by some and many wealthy people consume tiger products for purported medicinal qualities.
Tiger Rescue Operations Photo
WCS conservationists in India calculate tiger numbers by setting up remote camera traps that photograph the big cats in the wild.
©Eleanor Briggs
Tiger Rescue Operations Photo
The camera trap technique is also used in the Russian Far East, where this Siberian tiger was photographed.
Tiger Rescue Operations Photo
Tiger scat contains a unique DNA signature that gives researchers another way to accurately identify and count individual animals.
©S. Gopinth
Tiger Rescue Operations Photo
In the protected areas of India’s Western Ghats region, where WCS has worked for over 20 years, tiger populations are holding steady.
©Ullas Karanth
Tiger Rescue Operations Photo
Help the Wildlife Conservation Society save tigers in the wild by making a donation.
Julie Larsen Maher ©WCS

In the southernmost reaches of the Russian Far East, the Sikhote-Alin Mountain ecosystem is a vast forested complex home to a unique variety of large carnivores, including brown bears, Asiatic black bears, wolves, wolverine, and Eurasian lynx. This dense, temperate forest landscape also supports the world’s last remaining Siberian tigers.

WCS has been studying wildlife populations in the region since 1992, and continues to seek creative conservation solutions to balance the needs of local rural communities while ensuring the survival of iconic species. Siberian tigers require vast, intact habitats to survive in these low-productivity, northern temperate forests. But with less than 15 percent of the Sikhote-Alin landscape protected, smart, conservation-based management of the entire region is key, both inside and outside protected areas.

Fast Facts

  • Because northern temperate forests support few prey, Siberian tigers require vast territories – about 175 square miles for each female. In contrast, female Bengal tigers, where prey densities are high, may retain territories of 8 square miles or less.
  • About 50 percent of Siberian tigers die before they become a year old, often because their mothers have been poached.
  • The Sikkhote-Alin ecosystem holds one of the world’s last populations of wild ginseng – considered by some to be the “elixir of youth.”
  • The Sikhote-Alin Mountains represent the merger point of Asian and boreal flora and fauna. A large number of species have either their northern (for Asian species) or southern (for boreal species) distribution borders in the Sikhote-Alin Mountains. Therefore, a unique blend of species occurs here – lynx and leopards, brown bears and Himalayan black bears, tigers and wolves.


Siberian tigers share the majority of their habitat with people, including 60,000 hunters, logging enterprises, and villagers who harvest a wide variety of herbs, berries, and nuts from the forest. Therefore, a two-pronged strategy is essential: On the one hand, a network of protected areas must provide a haven safe from poachers and loggers. Outside protected areas, “tiger friendly” management regimes must be implemented to provide economic incentives for local people to protect the natural resources they depend upon. Poaching is a key threat for tigers and other large, wide-ranging carnivores. Effective law enforcement is critical to ensure the survival of both tigers and their prey.

WCS Responds

Working across boundaries, WCS helped design a comprehensive protected areas network that links key tiger habitat across the Russian Far East mountain ecosystem. Work is now underway to extend connectivity into Northeast China, to help the tiger population recover there, too. Our scientists organized the last range-wide census of tigers in the landscape, which showed that the big cats' population had stabilized, evidence that conservation efforts are working. We are also collaborating with local partners to develop action plans to manage unprotected lands in a way that is compatible with conservation goals, and to manage healthy populations of key prey animals, like red deer and wild boar. This will help support a long-term future for tigers and other carnivores. Additionally, we are developing innovative business plans that will link economic development in depressed regions to “tiger-friendly” conservation initiatives, using the power of green consumerism to change local perspectives on tigers. When necessary, we work with local government officials to alleviate tiger-human conflicts through relocating or otherwise deterring problem tigers from sites where they are considered a nuisance.

From the Newsroom

In Russia, Giant Owls Rely on Giant Trees August 15, 2013

A new study shows that Blakiston's fish owls are a clear indicator of the health of the forests, rivers, and salmon populations in Russia’s Far East.

Land of the Leopard Opens in RussiaApril 13, 2012

A new 1,000 square-mile park will safeguard leopards and Siberian tigers in Russia. Far Eastern leopards are considered the world’s rarest big cat.

Searching for Snares in ChinaJanuary 31, 2012

Dozens of volunteers have braved northeast China’s freezing temperatures to clear illegal wire traps that catch endangered Amur tigers.

Russian and U.S. Vets Solve Mysterious Tiger DeathsSeptember 30, 2011

Health experts from WCS’s Bronx Zoo, Primorskya State Agricultural Academy, and Moscow Zoo uncover how distemper may be affecting Siberian tigers.

WCS Makes Tracks for Tigers at St. Petersburg SummitNovember 23, 2010

WCS's Dr. John Robinson, Chief Conservation Officer, announces that WCS will pledge $5 million to save the tiger over the next 12 months, as part of a larger contribution of $50 million over 10 years. All investments will be targeted at on-the-ground efforts in tiger range states.


~/media/Images/wcs org/forms/please donate to help conservation.png
Stay in touch with WCS and receive the latest news.

Saving Wildlife

Where We Work