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Sino-Russian Nature Reserve to Revive Wild Population

HARBIN, August 15 -- A large nature reserve will be established along the lower reaches of the Wusuli River, which borders China and Russia, to give shelter to animal species nearing extinction.

According to a recent agreement signed by governments of China and Russia, the cross-border conservation area will be formed from the two existing nature reserves along each side of the river to cover a total of 560,000 hectares of land.

It is expected that the home-like atmosphere of the reserve will help spur the breeding instincts of some endangered wild animals in the region like the Siberian tiger and a rare species of Far East leopard.

Experts from the two nations will make joint efforts in research and preserving the region's ecological system along the river, setting up an ecological protection network in northeast Asia and establishing a gene bank for wild species population, according to Zhang Xiyang, director of the China-based Sanjiang Natural Reserve.

Personnel exchanges and joint field-research programs will be arranged to improve the scientific research capacity of the two nature conservation areas.

Located in the delta area where the Heilongjiang River and Wusuli River converge, the Sanjiang Nature Reserve is known for its biological diversity as a habitat of various rare species of animals and birds under state-level protection.

The expanded conservation area will give endangered animals a wider range for roaming and enjoying their natural habitat. And these surroundings may promote the mating and reproductive capacity of various rare animals in the region, according to Zhang.

A recent field investigation conducted by experts from the two countries indicated that the number of wild Siberian tigers, who mainly live in far east Russia and northeast China, is drastically declining.

China officially knows of only 9 to 13 wild Siberian tigers in its territory at present. Living in separate localities in the east part of Sino-Russian border, they are believed not to be traveling in groups, which limits opportunities for breeding.

Investigation shows that there are about 400 wild Siberian tigers living in breeding groups in the far east area of Russia.

The situation is more serious for the Far East leopards, a species only spotted in China and Russia. The total population of the mammoth catamount is reported to be no more than 50.

Experts attribute the decreasing population of some wild species to the expansion activities of human beings, less natural forest area and insufficient food for the animals.

-- source: Xinhua News Agency

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