One of Rare’s China team members, Tingting blogs about her participation in the Siberian Tiger Festival as a representative from Rare…
Hunchun city, also known as the “Hometown of the Siberian Tiger”, is one of the largest habitats for Siberian tigers in China, and Rare (Rareconservation.org) is working to help protect those remaining tigers by inspiring hunters to develop non-hunting economic alternatives and strengthen local law enforcement in order to reduce poaching.
Rare launched the Hunchun Nature Reserve Pride campaign in October 2008 to help protect the last remaining tigers with support from the Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) China Program. The campaign is intended to inspire local communities to get involved in conserving the Siberian tiger.
On November 12th we were invited to join the “First Siberian Tiger Festival” at Hunchun city, which was organized by the local Hunchun government, the Hunchun Nature Reserve, and WCS, and was supported by Rare and the Hunchun Tourism Bureau. The purposes of the festival were to inspire the public to take pride in Siberian tiger conservation, recognize that the Siberian tiger helps make their city valuable and attractive, get local government officials involved in the cause, and inspiring people to take action by refusing to eat wild animal meat.
The festival lasted for two days and included an academic forum, group discussions, a massive parade (with more than 2,000 participants), and an exhibition of wildlife specimens and students’ calligraphy and paintings. What impressed me the most was at the opening ceremony the governor of Hunchun city promised he wouldn’t eat wild animal meat and asked the people to follow his lead. This was the first time the governor of Hunchun appealed to the people about this issue.
(First prize painting by Cui Xiangyu, Hunchun City middle school student.)
After the festival we visited the Xiacaomao and Guandaogou villages, targeted areas of the Hunchun Pride campaign. We planned for setting up farmer patrol teams in the villages, with 14 members altogether. Their main responsibilities would include preventing farmers — both within and outside the villages — from illegally hunting the wildlife, clearing snares, and monitoring the wildlife. Also, in order to increase the farmers’ income and inspire the local community to get involved in Siberian tiger conservation, Rare’s partners took villagers on study tours to learn about breeding cattle in stables and helped them to develop agriculture in order to address economic development.
A brutally heavy snow storm stopped our planned unveiling ceremony for the farmer patrol teams. The snow, however, did not stop our fervor. We led focus group discussions among the farmer patrol team members and the participants actively shared their opinions of the patrol teams, the difficulties they were concerned about, and the bright future they expected through breeding cattle in stables, etc.
Click here to see Rare’s photo gallery from Hunchun Nature Reserve.