MOSCOW – Russia has established a national park to protect Siberian tigers, an international conservation group said Thursday.
The 200,000-acre park will protect the big cat's habitat while simultaneously allowing for nature tourism, according to the WWF. The group estimates there are about 500 Siberian tigers left in the wild.
It is "enormously important for the survival of the world's largest cat," Darron Collins, managing director of WWF's Amur-Heilong Program in the United States, said in a news release.
The group said it had been pushing for a decade for the park's creation, and "had to demonstrate an economically viable future for protecting a pretty big chunk of land," Collins said.
For Zov Tigra, "that future has got to include sustainable, ecologically based tourism," he said.
The Russian Far East, near the country's eastern coast and the Chinese border, has several strictly protected areas where no human activity is allowed and several wildlife management areas that permit natural resource extraction, WWF said.
The organization called for more protected areas in the region for Siberian tigers, which are threatened by poaching for their bones and skin for use in Chinese medicine.