Michiel Hötte established the Tigris Foundation, a small conservation NGO to protect Siberian leopards and tigers in the wild, and has been successful in preventing forest fires and reducing the level of poaching. “I will never forget the moment when I heard I had been selected as one of three winners of the Future For Nature Award 2008. I was walking on a street on a cold December evening in Vladivostok. I jumped at least three feet in the air – but fortunately made a soft landing in the snow!”
More about Michiel Hötte
Michiel Hötte has been involved in the conservation of Amur (Siberian) leopards and tigers since 1994. In 1997 he founded Tigris Foundation. He has worked on conservation projects for the Zoological Society of London and since 2007 he has been a project manager for the Wildlife Conservation Society.
More about the project
Around 400 Amur tigers and 40 Amur leopards live in the forests of the Russian Far East near Vladivostok and adjacent areas in China. The main threats to the survival of these endangered cat species are poaching of both prey animals and the cats themselves, as well as frequent forest fires that reduce forest habitat size and quality.
Michiel’s two main 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 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 Future For Nature Award
“It was a great honour to have been selected from as many as 69 candidates from 40 countries by an international jury of renowned conservationists. 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!
Part of the Award funds were used for the continuation of several ongoing education and anti-poaching projects. Another part was spent on fitting 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 a small nature reserve that suffers from very frequent human-induced forest fires. With the remaining funds we have supported two fire-fighting teams in the small range of the remaining 40 Amur leopards in Russia.
The Future For Nature Award received much media attention in the Netherlands, and probably also elsewhere as I received several congratulations from abroad. The interest in the Award helped to strengthen relations with our sponsors. It has not yet led to clear new funding opportunities, but this is probably because most Dutch sponsors of international conservation already support our work.”
I would like to express my gratitude to the Future For Nature Foundation for establishing the Award and Burgers’ Zoo for providing generous funding.”
“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.” – 2008, Vivek Menon, International Selection Commitee