China is reportedly planning to create a vast national park to protect endangered Siberian Tigers and Amur leopards.
The park is set to be 60% larger than Yellowstone National Park.
According to the Jilin provincial forestry department, central authorities have approved the national park plan.
It will encompass 14,600 square kilometres in north-eastern provinces of Jilin and Heilongjiang, bordering Russia’s Primorsky.
The initiative is seen as a major step towards better cooperation between China and Russia in protecting wildlife in the region.
The park will also serve as a link between a number of currently isolated protection zones.
Wild Siberian tigers are on the very edge of extinction. Widespread, intensive logging in their native homelands in the 1950s caused the population to crash. Research carried out in 1998 found evidence of only 6 to 9 tigers in the area.
Logging was halted in 2015 and, thanks to other efforts on behalf on the tigers, their population in Jilin shows some signs of recovery.
Amur leopards share the same habitat and are also endangered. Estimates suggest that there are currently 35 tigers and 70 leopards in protected areas totally roughly 4000 square kilometres.
Experts say this is not nearly enough land to support the animals.
They agree that China must create a ‘long-term mechanism’ for protecting Siberian tigers and Amur leopards.
Aside from specific endangered species, the park is seen as crucial for protecting biodiversity in the northern temperate zone.
There are also plans to establish a monitoring and rescue centre in the park for wild tigers and leopards. Further scientific and research facilities are also on the cards.
The country’s first national park pilot was instigated last year in the Sanjiangyuan area in southwest China’s Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. This is specifically to protect the headwaters of the Yangtze, Yellow, and Lancang (Mekong) rivers. It is expected to officially open in 2020.