Catch a Taiga By the Toe
No one needs to tell the Amur tiger that species worldwide are endangered. A resident of Russia’s far-eastern taiga forests, the tigers are severely threatened by insatiable and generally illegal logging in the region. In theory, Russia has some of the world’s strictest logging laws, but the taiga’s old-growth trees (such as Manchurian oak and Korean pine) fetch the highest prices on the market, so the rewards for logging outweigh the risks. As the trees go, so go the tigers, of which fewer than 500 are thought to remain. Also threatened are Russia’s indigenous Udege people, who make their home in the taiga. The problem is complicated by severe economic depression and unemployment in the region, and by the widespread corruption of those who are supposed to protect the forests from poachers and illegal loggers.