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International backing will help Chinese rangers protect tigers

2014-08-05 09:32 China Daily Web Editor: Wang Fan

Chinese rangers at two conservation zones have joined the Ranger Federation of Asia, a move that will help protect the wild tiger population.

"As the first Chinese team joining the Ranger Federation of Asia, we are very proud," said Yu Changchun, director of Jilin Forestry Department.

"This international honor is the highest praise and recognition for what we have done in the past five years. Our rangers have become professional. They are equipped with knowledge of protection, high-tech equipment and systematic support. We will continue to work with the WWF and protect our precious forest and tigers, the king of the land," he said.

The World Wide Fund for Nature said on Monday that Chinese rangers at the Wangqing conservation zone in Jilin province and Suiyang conservation zone in Heilongjiang province had joined the federation, which brings rangers together to improve communication and effectiveness.

The Amur tiger, one of the world's rarest mammals, lives in Eastern Russia, Northeast China and northern parts of the Korean Peninsula. Fewer than 500 remain in the wild.

"We hope that more organizations and individuals join hands and create free living space for both human beings and tigers in the future," said Shi Quanhua, head of the WWF Asia Big Cats.

"Northeast China has large scale forests that can host over 150 wild Amur tigers. It is the most promising region to double the big cat's number."

Rohit Singh, president of Ranger Federation of Asia, said the rangers battle a severe environment, low income and even personal safety.

"You can never win this conservation war without well-equipped rangers who work as soldiers," Singh said.

In 2007, the International Ranger Federation and Thin Green Line Foundation designated July 31 as the World Ranger Day. It aims to commemorate rangers killed or injured in the line of duty, and celebrates the work rangers do to protect the world's natural and cultural treasures.

There are 29 rangers in Northeast China who work from September to May.

"It's really hard work. We patrol in the snow-capped mountains on foot. If we could get better equipment like snowmobiles, professional clothes and bags, it would be more safe and effective. Also, most of us received little education, so we need more training. I'm happy that the federation will support us in these ways," said Cao Zhixin, a 45-year-old ranger in Jilin province.

He and three colleagues are in charge of a 9,100-hectare forest.

"Rangers are vital to prevent poaching and trade in tigers, yet they do not get any attention," Singh said. "By inviting Chinese rangers to join the federation, we can strengthen international exchanges and attract more support for them," he added.

The WWF hopes to double the number of tigers by the next Year of the Tiger in 2022.

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