Conservation Activities Timeline: 1983-2009
- 1983 to 1986 - Tiger reproductive studies begin at the Minnesota Zoo including successful in vitro capacitation of tiger spermatozoa, sperm penetration assays for evaluating tiger fertility, behavioral indicators and endocrine correlates of tiger estrus, a neonatal growth model for captive tigers, effect of season on semen quality, seminal plasma chemistry and hormone levels in male Amur tigers, leading to hormonal induction of ovarian activity, in vitro fertilization, and embryo development in vitro and in vivo in tigers;
- 1986- Coordinated and supported International Symposium - Conservation Strategies for Tigers;
- 1987- Published companion book - Tigers of the World: The Conservation and Biopolitics of an Endangered Species, edited with U.S. Seal;
- 1987- Dr. Ron Tilson elected AZA Amur tiger SSP coordinator;
- 1987- Created international newsletter for tiger news - Tiger Beat (through 1993);
- 1987- Pioneered cross-fostering tiger cubs from one mother to the other;
- 1990- Member of team that produced first AI and IVF births in tigers; the taxa used for developing the IUCN/SSC CBSG Genome Resource Bank for Tigers; (collaboration among Minnesota, Omaha and National Zoos);
- 1992- Dr. Ron Tilson appointed coordinator of Tiger SSP;
- 1992- Formed the IUCN/SSC Tiger Global Conservation Strategy (collaboration with International Rhino Foundation and European Endangered Species Program;
- 1992- Introduced concepts and coordinated the first captive management program for Sumatran tigers in Indonesia (1992-98);
- 1992- Coordinated the first IUCN/SSC CBSG Population and Habitat Viability Analysis Workshop (PHVA) for wild Sumatran tigers in Indonesia (collaboration with Indonesian Department of Nature Conservation);
- 1993- Received the AZA Significant Achievement Award in Conservation for the Sumatran Tiger Conservation Strategy (with Potter Park Zoo);
- 1994- Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) developed with the Indonesian PKBSI to initiate a Tiger Genome Resource Bank;
- 1994- Published the AZA Tiger SSP husbandry manual - Conservation and Management of Captive Tigers (collaboration with Asian Tiger Fund and PHPA); later translated into Russian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai and Bahasa Indonesia;
- 1994- Awarded the AZA Edward Bean Award for Long-tern Management and Conservation of Tigers (collaboration with Omaha and National Zoos).
- 1994- Drafted and published the Sumatran Tiger Indonesian Conservation Strategy at the request of the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry;
- 1994- Initiated and supported the first Indonesian Sumatran tiger evaluation and training program for zoos in Java and Sumatra;
- 1994- Initiated the Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens South China Tiger Program at four primary Chinese zoos holding South China tigers: Guangzhou, Chongqing, Shanghai and Suzhou. During this time assisted with the development of the Chinese South China Tiger Studbook and the South China Tiger Masterplan.
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- 1995- Coordinated and supported the Indochinese Tiger Master Plan for Thailand;
- 1995- Created and directed the Tiger Information Center, a web site at www.5tigers.org;
- 1995- Initiated the Sumatran Tiger Program’s long term tiger field study in Sumatra;
- 1995 – Received the AZA Conservation Award for the Minnesota Zoo’s Adopt-A-Park Program in Ujung Kulon National Park, Indonesia;
- 1996- Assisted and supported Community Education Program for local villagers, Way Kambas National Park, Sumatra (collaboration with Save the Tiger Fund, USFWS Rhino The Tiger Fund and P. Nyhus);
- 1996- Initiated Tiger Conservation Teams in protected areas of Sumatra (collaboration with IRF, Indonesian Rhino Conservation Program);
- 1997- Coordinated the Sumatran Tiger Masterplan--Masterplan Harimau Sumatera Indonesia;
- 1997- Coordinated the Medical, Reproductive and Management Evaluation of South China Tigers in China;
- 1997- Bilingual edition of Indonesian Tiger Conservation Strategy published (collaboration with ESSO Indonesia);
- 1997- Drafted and published a conservation education brochure in Indonesian language (collaboration with Australian Commonwealth Environmental Protection Agency, Zoological Parks Board of New South Wales, Australia);
- 1997- Dr. Ron Tilson elected Chairman of Board of Directors, The Tiger Foundation based in Vancouver, Canada;
- 1998- Coordinated the Year of the Tiger Conference in Dallas, TX, the largest gathering of tiger specialists ever;
- 1998- Coordinated and supported the Javan Tiger Colloquium, Yogyakarta, Java;
- 1998- Helped develop a problem tiger rescue team in Sumatra (collaboration with TSI and PHKA);
- 1998- Participated in production of a televised tiger documentary (collaboration with Discovery Channel’s Animal Planet and Tremendous Productions);
- 1998 – Received the AZA Significant Achievement Award in Conservation for the Sumatran Tiger Project (wild tiger conservation);
- 1999- Initiated and supported tiger anti-poaching teams for Way Kambas National Park, Sumatra;
- 1999- Coordinated an undercover investigation of illegal trade in tiger products, Sumatra;
- 1999- Developed a Geographic Information System (GIS) database for Sumatra (collaboration with P.Nyhus);
- 1999- Initiated Javan tiger photo census, trained park guards in methodology and purchased field cameras in Meru Betiri National Park, Java;
- 1999- Sumatran Tiger Project recognized with a CITES Tiger Task Team commendation for outstanding project design;
- 1999- Awarded 21st Century Tiger (UK) Conservation Prize for tiger conservation;
- 1999- Initiated “Tiger Flash”, an electronic newsletter of the Tiger SSP;
- 1999- Supported the South China Tiger Nutrition Workshop to review reproductive function and the role of nutrition, review previous evaluations of tiger diets from four zoos, feeding practices in carnivores, hand rearing tigers, and principles of nutrition.
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- 2001- Initiated components of South China Protection Program with a field methodology workshop (collaboration with State Forestry Administration, China);
- 2002- Initiated the South China Tiger Field Survey in Jiangxi, Fujian, Zhejiang, Hunan and Hubei Provinces, P.R. China (collaboration with State Forestry Administration, China);
- 2002- Helped plan and support the Indonesian Advocacy Network for Tigers, Rhinos and Elephants Symposium (collaboration with Ministry of Forestry, WWF IRF and IRCP);
- 2002- Implemented Tiger Protection Units and a supporting management infrastructure for Sumatra-wide implementation (collaboration with PKHS and the Indonesian Rhino Conservation Program with funds from AAZK, TTF and STT);
- 2003- Merger of tiger and rhino protection units in Way Kambas National Park, Sumatra reduces overlapping administrations to streamline anti-poaching patrols (collaboration among the Sumatran Tiger Conservation Program, the International Rhino Foundation (IRF) and their Indonesian Rhino Conservation Program (IRCP), and the Directorate General of Forest Protection and Nature Conservation (PHKA);
- 2004- Helped initiate and support capacity building for Tiger Law Enforcement in Sumatra by developing a new national program to support coordinated law enforcement of tiger related crime at national and regional levels (collaboration with CITES Tiger Enforcement Task with Police, Forestry, Military, Judiciary, Customs & Excise, and international agencies including CITES, TRAFFIC and Interpol, with local agencies and NGOs
- 2004 – Received the AZA International Conservation Award for the Sumatran tigers;
- 2004- Presented a paper to XIXth International Congress of Zoology, “Status and Recovery Options for South China Tigers: A Wilderness Vision”. This paper summarized the current status of South China tiger populations in captivity, in the wild, and describes options for short-term and long-term conservation and restoration of this subspecies.
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- 2005- Presented a paper “South China Tiger Status and Recovery Options” at the Proceedings of IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas 5th Conference on Protected Areas of East Asia held in Hong Kong. It addressed an analysis of the process to accomplish the restoration of tigers to the Chinese landscape in suitable sites in their former range with a focus on two priority conservation areas in Hunan and adjacent Provinces that meet the space requirements for tiger recovery.
- At the same August conference we presented a paper “China: Biodiversity study using remote infared cameras in the provinces of Jiangxi, Fujian, Zhejiang, Hunan and Guangdong in south-central China.”
- 2005- Presented a paper “China: Rapid Assessment and GIS Analysis of Potential South China Tiger Recovery Zones” at the Proceedings of International Workshop for the Chinese Tiger Reintroduction held in Beijing, China. It reported on a rapid assessment of potential South China tiger recovery zones over a four-week period in July-August, 2005. The objective was to evaluate if existing protected areas in the South China tigers’ former range are large enough to support wild populations of tigers; there are two suitable sites.
- At the same conference we presented a second paper “Restoring South China Tigers to Wilderness Areas: Refining the Habitat Analysis”.
- 2005- China’s State Forestry Administration appointed the South China Tiger Advisory Office, based at the Minnesota Zoo (USA), to provide technical and financial support for China’s long-term efforts to restore tigers to wilderness areas.
- 2006- Published a paper with the Chairman of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Cat Specialist Group, “Workshop on the Reintroduction of the South China Tiger” in Cat News.
- 2006- A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to provide technical advice on the South China Tiger Recovery Project was signed.
- 2006- China’s State Forestry Administration and the Minnesota Zoo’s South China Tiger Advisory Office conducted a needs assessment of regional forest offices in Hunan, Hubei, and Guangdong Provinces. The objective was to collect technical information, supporting documents, maps and other information relative to submitting this Project Brief.
- 2006- The Minnesota Zoo’s South China Tiger Advisory Office submitted to China’s State Forestry Administration a combined Project Concept Document (PCD) for Global Environmental Facility (GEF) Pipeline Entry and a request for Project Development Facility (PDF) Block B funding.
- 2008- Returned to China to meet with local, provincial, and national-level State Forestry Administration leaders to discuss the South China Tiger Recovery Project, receive input from local biodiversity and ecology experts, collect documents necessary to begin planning the project, and conduct surveys of possible prey breeding and reintroduction sites.
- 2008- Conducted a field evaluation of Hupingshan and Houhe National Nature Reserves to (1) visit existing tiger prey (pig and deer) breeding sites in China and collect detailed information about facilities, husbandry, operations, estimated annual costs for animals and infrastructure and types of containment enclosures (fencing); and (2) discuss internally and with SFA staff where to locate prey breeding facilities, prey release sites, field monitoring and research centers.
- 2009- Initiated a conservation partnership with The Nature Conservancy’s Africa Program and a Namibian organization, Save the Rhino Trust (SRT) that focuses on black rhino conservation in the Kunene Region in northeastern Namibia. Minnesota Zoo staff, Jeff Muntifering, has been working with SRT in Namibia since 2002 and now serves as the project’s Science Adviser
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