HARBIN, March 5 (Xinhua) — In a national park in northeast China, the local forest management bureau reported that 35 traces of Siberian tigers were spotted last year, a record high.

“The rising number suggests an improving ecological system,” said 41-year-old Liang Zhuo, a researcher with the bureau. Liang is responsible for monitoring the endangered species which are mainly found in east Russia and northeast China.

Monitoring is one of the most essential tasks for researchers in the national park for wild Siberian tigers (also called Northeastern tigers) and Northeast Asian leopards (also called Amur leopards), the first of its kind in China founded in 2017, with ten branches scattered across Heilongjiang Province, China’s northernmost province and neighboring Jilin Province.

The areas designated for the park are considered the country’s most inhabitable lands with the most Siberian tigers and leopards, covering 14,600 square kilometers.

Over the years, conservation efforts have started to pay off. However, dating back to the end of the 20th century, the well-being of the Siberian tiger was a matter of considerable concern for experts in China as its population saw a sharp decline due to damaged habitats.

China attaches great importance to ecological protection and green development. As such, Siberian tigers, a species at the top of the ecological wildlife pyramid, became a priority in the country.

“If Siberian tigers can survive and settle down in the region, it means the local ecosystem has been restored,” said Jiang Guangshun, an official with the National Forestry and Grassland Administration.

In 1998, China initiated its conservation project for forest resources and forbade commercial logging in the northeastern state-owned forests under national protection.

China has also undertaken a number of campaigns to raise public awareness including the celebration of the first Global Tiger Day in 2010.

Thanks to a string of measures such as logging and hunting bans, northeast China’s mountain forests began to see greater diversity in wildlife species, further creating favorable habitats for Siberian tigers.

According to the national park, there are at least 27 wild Siberian tigers and 42 Amur leopards in China, an indicator of the reproduction peak of the tigers and leopards.

The population also suggests a migration towards the Chinese territory from a transboundary area of China and Russia. “That’s a sign that China’s habitats for Siberian tigers are under better protection,” said Jiang.

“The well-being of the tigers depends on the continuous improvement of northeast China’s ecological environment,” Jiang added.

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