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Growing Tiger Population a Menace to China Villagers

Across China: Growing tiger population a menace to China villagers

Conservationists have applauded the rebound in China’s Siberian tiger population, but villagers who count the cats as neighbors are not so happy.

In late July, life in a small mountain village in Hunchun City, Jilin Province, was disrupted when a wild Siberian tiger cub was found in the village.

The cub was seen wandering in a corn field by several villagers, and many found its footprints in their courtyards.

Hunchun, near the Russian and DPRK borders, is near the wild tigers’ natural habitat. Zhou Yamei, 62, said it is the first time she has seen a tiger enter the village.

“I’m so afraid that I don’t dare go to the field,” she said. For almost two weeks, her family has not touched any farm work.

A police car was parked on a road connecting the village to a mountain. Police said the tiger cub is probably in the mountains and they were there to dissuade villagers from heading into the hills.

According to the provincial forestry department, forest covered some 9.4 million hectares in Jilin, or about 43.9 percent of the province, in 2016. The wild Siberian tiger population in the province has grown from nine or fewer in 1998 to the current 27, thanks to conservation measures.

Some villagers are considering moving. Zhang Yujie has been living in the village for some 20 years. “I want to move away, but it is hard for me to leave the village where I have so many relatives and friends.”

Not far from the village is a pasture that has been haunted by the ferocious felines since May.

Yin Zhaohai rents the pasture, where he raises more than 100 cows for the villagers. “So far, six cows have been bitten by tigers and died, and another 20 have gone missing,” he said, sighing.

“We are not allowed to kill tigers since they are a rare animal, but our own safety is really in danger,” he said.

According to the forestry department of Jilin, injuries and economic losses due to wild animals have been on the rise. Last year, over 5,400 cases of injuries or loss were confirmed in the province, compared to around 2,600 in 2009.

In 2006, the province issued a document stipulating compensation for people who have suffered injuries or economic losses caused by wild animals. By the end of 2015, a total of 120 million yuan (18 million U.S. dollars) in compensation had been granted.

Xiao Wanjun, an official with the department, said a planned national forest park for Siberian tigers and Amur leopards may help solve the problem.

The park will include tiger and leopard habitats in Jilin and neighboring Heilongjiang Province. The government will relocate residents and industries in designated areas to ensure safety and protect the animals, Xiao said. (PNA/Xinhua)

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