UNDER SPECIAL PROTECTION: RUSSIA'S WILD ANIMALS
March 3 is World Wildlife Day, established to draw attention to the problems of conservation and to strengthen the fight against poaching.
According to the United Nations, the annual turnover in this segment of the black market is about $20 billion.
In Russia, most of the animals, birds and fish that are in the Red Book of the Russian Federation or subject to CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) are illegally harvested. In 2013, a new article was even added to the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, stipulating responsibility for their fishing and sale.
On World Wildlife Day, TASS tells about rare animals taken under special protection.
The Amur tiger
One of the rarest and largest of all known tigers, it can weigh up to 300 kilograms. It is listed in the International Red Book as an endangered species. According to 2015 data, 480-540 individuals remained in the wild, and 90% of the population lives in the Primorsky and Khabarovsk Krays.
The Amur tiger is an object of special protection under a special presidential project to preserve and restore the population.
© Kirill Kukhmar/TASS
Included in the International Red Book and the Red Book of the Russian Federation. In all in the world there are 20-25 thousand of these animals including about 5-7 thousand of them living in Russia from Franz Josef Land and Novaya Zemlya to Chukotka. Hunting for these animals has been banned in Russia since 1957.
This is the largest terrestrial predator, its length reaches three meters and its weight is 750 kilograms. The maximum life expectancy of a polar bear is 25-30 years.
© Yuri Smityuk/TASS
In Russia, the leopard is found in Primorsky Krai and the North Caucasus.
Far Eastern subspecies is listed in the International Red Book. To protect it, a 262,000-hectare Land of the Leopard national park was created in Primorye in 2012. In the first three years, the number of predators has increased from 35 to about 80 individuals.
Also, a program for reintroduction (reintroduction of wild animals back to the territory where they used to live, but for some reason disappeared, to create a new population) of the Persian leopard has been implemented in Russia for several years. For this purpose, the Sochi center was opened in 2009. In July 2016, the first release of predators into the wild took place - three cats born in the Sochi center were released into the wild in the Caucasus Nature Reserve.
The Trans-Asian subspecies of the leopard is included in the Red Book of Russia and CITES Appendix I (endangered species whose trade has or may have an adverse effect on their existence). The total population as a whole amounts to a thousand individuals in the wild all over the world: the predators live in Iran, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan and a number of other countries. Nowadays in the Russian Caucasus the Persian leopard is encountered in the wild only once in 5-7 years, when single individuals of this subspecies enter there.
© Viktor Drachev/TASS
The heaviest and largest terrestrial mammal in Europe, the last European representative of wild bulls. Its body length can reach 3.3 m, its height at withers - about 2 m, weight reaches up to one ton. The Red Book of the International Union for Conservation of Nature classifies the bison as a vulnerable species.
The program on restoration of the European bison population is implemented by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment in several regions of Russia. The largest herd has been created in the Oryol region, the population is increasing rapidly in the Bryansk and Kaluga regions and a similar project has been initiated near Smolensk. As a result more than 500 animals live in these regions while there are just over 5 thousand animals all over the world.
The restoration of bison populations around the world has been going on for decades. In the center of Russia it began in 1996 when 60 animals from nurseries in the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany and Spain were brought to the Orel region.
Altai mountain sheep
© Paulo Fassina/flickr.com
The argali, or argali, is the largest representative of the wild sheep. Listed in the International Red Book. In Russia, the argali mainly lives in the Altai Republic in the border zone with Mongolia. Males of the Altai subspecies weigh up to 200 kilograms and females up to 100 kilograms. The horns of the males are up to 1.5 meters long. In the International Red Book, the argali is considered a near-vulnerable species. The main threat to them is poaching and reduction of habitats due to the expansion of domestic cattle pastures.
There are 1,229 argali in the Russian Federation, according to 2016 censuses.
© Dmitry Rogulin/TASS
A cloven-hoofed mammal of the antelope subfamily is on the verge of extinction. It is now found only in Kazakhstan, Western Mongolia, Russia (Kalmykia and Astrakhan Oblast) and Uzbekistan. Saiga is protected under Russia's international treaties, including CITES.
In recent years, there has been a catastrophic decline in the numbers of the saiga antelope in Russia.