The Amur leopard is a rare subspecies of the commonly known African leopard. The main threats to their survival are habitat destruction by frequent forest fires and poaching of both the leopards itself and their prey. Michiel Hötte founded the Tigris Foundation in 1997. Two of his projects are: a fire management project in the small range of the remaining 40 Amur leopards and an anti-poaching project in the four most important protected areas for Amur tigers in the Russian Far East. Both projects have been very successful. The area that burns down annually has been reduced by between 80% and 99%, and poaching pressures have been reduced by around 40%.
Ever since Michiel Hötte made a life-changing journey with the Trans-Siberian Express to Vladivostok in 1994, he is determined to save the Amur leopard from extinction. During this trip, biologists that were investigating the Siberian tiger took him on an excursion to catch tigers and panthers for their research. Michiel has been determined to save this amazing animal ever since.
Vision and Approach
The Amur leopard is a rare subspecies of the commonly known African leopard. They are found in the temperate forests of the Russian Far East, an area that is known for his harsh winters. The situation around the Amur leopard is highly critical. Their habitat size and quality is reduced extensively because of frequent forest fires and poaching of both the leopard as their prey cause the animal to be critically endangered. Around 40 Amur leopards and 400 Amur tigers live in the forests of the Russian Far East and its adjacent areas in China. To protect these species, the Tigris Foundation set up a fire management project and an anti-poaching project. Both have been very successful. The area that burns annually has been reduced by between 80% and 99% in a 150 square kilometre project area, and poaching pressures have been reduced by around 40% in an area of 8,000 square kilometres.
“The Award provided international recognition for 15 years of conservation work for the last remaining wild population of 30 Amur leopards in the Russian Far East and North-East China. The Award gave no small boost to my ego, but an even bigger boost to our work!"Michiel Hötte
Impact of the Future For Nature Award
- The Future For Nature Award provided Michiel international recognition for his 15 years of conservation work for the last remaining wild population of Amur leopards in the Russian Far East and North-East China.
- The financial support of the Future For Nature Award made it possible to continue several ongoing education and anti-poaching projects.
- Part of the funds were used to fit new caterpillar tracks to an old bulldozer and on a complete overhaul of the bulldozer’s engine. The bulldozer is now used for the creation of firebreaks around nature reserves.
"Michiel is working on the Amur leopard, probably the rarest sub-species of wild cats in the world. His work as a Dutchman in Russia is exceptional as he is fluent in the language, is accepted by the locals, and has worked on conservation measures from anti-poaching to habitat securement. His oil pipeline victory is remarkable when Russia is thrusting ahead on oil exploitation."Mr. Vivek Menon, International Selection Commitee