Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Is North Korea full of tigers?

Actual big-cat tigers, I mean. Not metaphorical tigers, such as doubtless fill the ranks of their army.

The Korea Herald and Joongang Daily both have articles about the Korean government asking Russia to lend a few tigers to improve local genetic diversity. The tigers would be used to improve diversity in zoo populations but both articles reference 500 living in the wild.

The tigers, which had widely inhabited the Korean Peninsula until the early 20th century, are presently on the list of critically endangered species due to poaching and habitat destruction. Siberian tigers, most of which currently live in the Russian Far East, are also known as the Amur, Manchurian or Korean tiger.
Okay, that's not so specific, but now the Joongang:
Siberian tigers, also known as Amur tigers, have the same family line as Korean native tigers that have not been present since 1924.

In 1940s, there were 20 to 30 Siberian tigers in Korea. However, the number increased after the government adopted policies, such as hunting bans, to protect them.

Currently, an estimated 500 tigers roam the wilds in Korea and 421 are being raised in captivity.
The first and last quoted lines confuse me. 'Not present' and '500 tigers roam wild'.

Another reason to pity those poor North Koreans.