Volunteers in NE China clear traps to protect endangered Siberian tigers

17:02, January 10, 2011      

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Over 100 volunteers are searching for and clearing traps in snow-covered mountain forests in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province to protect the endangered Siberian tigers.

By Sunday night, the trap-clearing work that started Saturday morning had cleared 67 iron wire traps and a clip, team head Wang Lin told reporters Monday.

Poachers usually set traps and clips to catch roe deer, rabbits and wild boar, said Ma Jianzhang, an academic at the Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE) who does research on wild animals.

Ma said the wild animals the poachers trap are the Siberian tigers' food. Poaching the wild animals breaks the forest food chain, threatening the endangered tiger species that once roamed western and central Asia and eastern Russia.

The New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), the Heilongjiang Provincial Administration of Forest Industry, the Harbin Daily Newspaper Group and online news company www.harbinnews.com jointly sponsored the trap-clearing campaign, said Wang Lin.

The volunteers, aged between 19 and 65, were selected from more than 300 applicants from across the country. They include public servants, university students, teachers and journalists, Wang said.

Volunteer Ma Xinda is a junior at Yanbian University in northeastern Jilin Province.

"I was hungry and exhausted after a day's walk in deep snow. But when I found a trap, I became excited and energized again," Ma said.

"I think our efforts have been worthwhile," said volunteer Qiao Junxian from north China's Hebei Province.

"I hope we can ensure a quiet and safe habitat for the wild Siberian tigers, so they can make it their home and breed here," Qiao said.

There are only about 20 wild Siberian tigers left in China, with eight to 10 in Jilin Province and 10 to 14 in Heilongjiang Province.

The trap-clearing campaign will last until Friday.

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