Interviews: Taking a Tally of the Siberian Tiger

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Siberian tigers play in the snow. i

Siberian tigers play in the snow. Julie Larsen Maher/Wildlife Conservation Society hide caption

itoggle caption Julie Larsen Maher/Wildlife Conservation Society
Siberian tigers play in the snow.

Siberian tigers play in the snow.

Julie Larsen Maher/Wildlife Conservation Society
"Olga," a 14-year-old Siberian tiger, was killed earlier this year by poachers.

"Olga," a 14-year-old Siberian tiger, was killed earlier this year by poachers. Researchers had been tracking her continuously for 11 years, and six of her cubs are believed to be still alive. John Goodrich/Wildlife Conservation Society hide caption

itoggle caption John Goodrich/Wildlife Conservation Society
These very young Siberian tiger cubs were equipped with radio collars earlier this year. i

These very young Siberian tiger cubs were equipped with radio collars earlier this year. John Goodrich/Wildlife Conservation Society hide caption

itoggle caption John Goodrich/Wildlife Conservation Society
These very young Siberian tiger cubs were equipped with radio collars earlier this year.

These very young Siberian tiger cubs were equipped with radio collars earlier this year.

John Goodrich/Wildlife Conservation Society

Wildlife conservationists have just released the results of the first Siberian tiger count in far eastern Russia in nine years — a study that took 1,000 people months to search, looking for the animals' massive footprints across nearly 70,000 square miles of habitat.

The results were something of a surprise: instead of a decreasing population, like most expected, the numbers remained about the same as a decade ago. The total count for the latest survey? Between 430 to 530 tigers left, including the cubs.

In the latest Day to Day interview for the NPR/National Geographic co-production Radio Expeditions, Alex Chadwick talks with Dale Miquelle, director of the Wildlife Conservation Society's Russia program and project director of the Siberian tiger survey.

"We consider this a success, to be able to maintain stability in tiger populations when in most parts of Russia, the numbers are crashing," Miquelle says. "We're pretty happy with the results."

Miquelle says two factors may be responsible for the steady population numbers. The economy of Russia is improving compared to 10 years ago, and there is less pressure on hunters to poach the tigers to sell their pelts and body parts. Also, there were more and better-trained trackers hunting the big but elusive cats.

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