VLADIVOSTOK, Russia, June 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Adding the second national park for Siberian tigers in the span of one week, the Russian Government this past weekend established "Udege Legend" National Park for tiger conservation and the cultural preservation of an indigenous way of life. Now Russia's protected a total of 419,000 acres of Siberian or Amur tiger habitat as national park.
"There's plenty to be worried about where tigers are concerned," said Dr. Darron Collins, managing director of WWF's Amur-Heilong Program. "But the world's tiger lovers can all sleep just a little bit easier on the heels of Russia's recent national park declarations."
Yesterday, following nearly eight years of data collection, planning, and negotiations between World Wildlife Fund and the Government of Russia, 219,000 acres of one of the most biologically diverse provinces in Russia -- the Primorsky Province -- was provided permanent protection as a national park. Less than a week ago, Russia created the 200,000-acre Zov Tigra or Roar of the Tiger National Park several hundred miles to the south.
Tigers aren't the only ones that inhabit the new park. The Udege (pronounced OO-di-gay) people -- an indigenous group numbering 1650 people -- use the resources of the park. For over 15 centuries, the Udege have inhabited the area and their historical monuments and artifacts -- including the site of an ancient settlement that was the northern capitol of the Churdgen empire -- will benefit from the increased protection.
"The spiritual relationship between the Udege and tiger -- or amba as the Udege say -- is strong," Collins continued. "World Wildlife Fund hopes to work with the Russian Government to help make Udege Legend National Park a model for demonstrating how conservation and cultural revitalization can strengthen each other."
The park will help protect the home of Siberian tigers -- some of the world's most biologically diverse temperate forests. These forests, dominated by Korean pine which yields much of the world's pine nut crop, are home to 30 species of endangered plants, brown and black bears, and two families of Siberian tiger. The Siberian tiger once numbered fewer than 50 individuals during the Second World War but has rebounded to approximately 500 individuals.
"Udege Legend National Park is an important link in the chain of protected areas for tiger survival in Russia," says Dr. Yury Darman, director of WWF's Russian Far East office. "It becomes a centerpiece of protection and management across nearly five million acres of territory protecting a full 15 percent of the world's Siberian tiger population. To further protect Russia's tigers, the logging of Korean pine in tiger habitat must also stop and a third national park Anyusky should be declared."
Known in the United States as World Wildlife Fund and recognized worldwide by its panda logo, WWF leads international efforts to protect endangered species and their habitats and to conserve the diversity of life on Earth. Now in its fifth decade, WWF, the global conservation organization, works in more than 100 countries around the world. World Wildlife Fund
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Web site: http://www.worldwildlife.org/