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China, Russia launch joint lab on Siberian tiger conservation


Siberian tiger, northeast China's Jilin Province, January 4, 2024. /CFP
Siberian tiger, northeast China's Jilin Province, January 4, 2024. /CFP

Siberian tiger, northeast China's Jilin Province, January 4, 2024. /CFP

A Sino-Russian joint research lab on Siberian tiger conservation was established at Northeast Forestry University in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province on Thursday.

The lab, with more than 20 experts from both sides, is co-developed by China's Feline Research Center of the National Forestry and Grassland Administration and the Institute of Ecology and Evolution A.N. Severtsov of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

The lab encompasses research areas such as wildlife ecology and management, Siberian tiger feeding and breeding, and wildlife genetics.

Siberian tigers, also known as Amur tigers, are probably the largest cats on Earth. They mainly live in eastern Russia's birch forests but can also be found in northeast China and possibly the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. As one of the world's most endangered species, just over 10 wild Siberian tigers were believed to be living in China at the end of the 20th century.

In order to survive in the frigid climate of its habitat, the Siberian tiger has very dense fur. Compared with other tiger subspecies, the Siberian tiger is paler and has fewer dark stripes.

As the tigers frequently move between China and Russia, cooperation between the two sides is of vital importance, said Liu Ming, an associate researcher from the International Society of Zoological Sciences.

In recent years, Heilongjiang has built a number of nature reserves to protect Siberian tigers, Amur leopards and other wild animals, implemented forest protection and wetland restoration projects, and cracked down on various illegal and criminal activities that harm wildlife resources. As a result, the populations of rare and endangered wild animals, including Siberian tigers, have been effectively restored.

Back in 2010, the two countries signed a cooperation agreement to protect Siberian tigers and Amur leopards, which are also among the most endangered felines in the world.

The lab will form an international scientific research team engaged in endangered animal conservation, further deepen the theoretical and technical exchanges on Siberian tiger protection and strengthen data sharing, said Jiang Guangshun, director of the laboratory expert committee.

(With input from Xinhua)

(If you want to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at nature@cgtn.com.)

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