VLADIVOSTOK, Russia, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- A team of conservationists has launched a massive project in Russia to get a count of its Siberian tigers, one of the most threatened of the big cats.
The project, the first such in nine years, is led by the Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society and will involve hundreds of biologists, hunters and trackers who will comb the wilderness of Russia's Far East.
The experts will comb a variety of landscapes to find out how many Siberian tigers still exist in the wild. Last surveyed in 1996, the population, then estimated at between 415 and 476, has been under constant threat of poaching, logging and hunting.
Project coordinator Dale Miquelle told reporters in Vladivostok the tiger survey represents a milestone in cooperative, international conservation efforts.
He said the project has "full political support from both regional and national governmental bodies of the Russian Federation, as well as financial and technical support from the international conservation community."
Others experts said the survey is needed for a complete understanding of the current state of the Siberian tiger population and to plan for future tiger conservation measures.