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Russian Tigers

Siberian Tiger

Did you know that a century ago about 100,000 Siberian tigers roamed across Asia? Today? There are barely 3,000.

So call it good news that China and Russia, historically uneasy allies, agreed to develop a cross-border tiger protection program, to specifically help one tiger species -- the Amur, or "Siberian" tiger.

These are the biggest of the big cats. Males can reach 800 pounds. But their numbers are small and dwindling. Conservationists estimate maybe 450 tigers remain in the wild. Most of them are in Primorsky, Russia's remote, mountainous maritime province, which borders China and North Korea on the chilly Sea of Japan.

Tigers aren't safe even in this remote landscape. Logging roads, human competition for prey and especially tiger poachers continue to shrink their numbers.

The World Wildlife Fund, which facilitated the detente, reports the two nations will not only create a tiger protection area, they will also share tiger data, adopt identical monitoring systems for tigers and their prey, and conduct joint surveys and anti-poaching campaigns.

What's more, the plan dovetails with other tiger initiatives, all with the goal of doubling the world's wild tiger population in the next 12 years.

Script by Gail Davis

Photo -- Appaloosa, Wikimedia Commons

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