The Amur Tiger (Panthera tigris altaica), also known as the Siberian Tiger, the Manchurian Tiger, or the Ussuri Tiger, is the largest-sized subspecies of tiger. Mature males have an average length (with tail) of up to 400 cm (157 in), and shoulder height of 100 cm (39 in). It weighs 180 – 300 kg, with record weight recorded at 385 kg. Females are usually much smaller weighing between 100 – 166 kg. The Amur Tiger is confined completely to the Southeast of Russia, along the rivers Amur and Ussuri, It can be found throughout the Primorye Krai and the eastern part of the Khabarovsk Krai. Hunting has been prohibited since 1947, when the population was less than 50 individuals. It's a highly endangered species – according to the latest studies there are about 415 – 470 Amur tigers left. The population is at risk due to poaching primarily to supply tiger parts for Traditional Chinese Medicine in adjacent China, and habitat loss with continued logging of Korean pine and other plants which enable species upon which the tiger survives (e.g. Ussuri Wild Boar).
So now you want to see a wild tiger? It's our duty to help you achieve your dream but also set expectations for you and be transparent. We want to establish upfront that seeing a tiger in the wild is not predictable or easy by any means. In fact you would be extremely lucky to see one. But there are ways to increase chances, especially in winter. The team has several ways to increase the potential of viewing. A male tiger will circumnavigate his home territory every week to 10 days. This is his way of checking scent trees, marking his territory and monitoring his domain. There are some observation posts that can be manned for this purpose, but again this will require patience and luck for the reward of a sighting. We prefer not to disclose the number of tigers residing on the reserve as a precaution against poaching, however we have now several tigers residing here in the reserve consisting of adults and cubs.
Far more worthwhile and enjoyable is setting up camera traps to photograph tigers while at the reserve, and tracking their life in the snow. First off, the team has their own strategy for capturing tigers on film in winter on selected routes in the reserve and set up the cameras with visitors. (We won't disclose that strategy again as a precaution, but needless to say it does NOT involve anything such as bating or modifying their natural behavior). Our six Bushnell digital cameras were generously donated and feature night vision video and camera options. Mounting these cameras throughout the reserve usually results in high chances of photos and videos of tigers in winter and bears in other seasons, not to mention all other wildlife present.
Tracking tigers in the forest and just "knowing that they're there" is one of nature's greatest treats, if done safely. Following fresh tiger tracks in the snow is something that can be done safely and our guides will help unfold the story of the forest by looking at prints, branches, excrements and other indicators of the forest. You don't necessarily have to see a tiger to enjoy its presence, yet you might be one of the lucky few to see one. Either way, if you love nature and tigers, you will love Durminskoye reserve!