BEIJING, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) -- China Thursday launched a monitoring system to track and manage the natural habitat of endangered Siberian tigers and Amur leopards living in the country's northeastern regions.
More than 100 cameras and other devices have been installed in Hunchun, Jilin Province, covering a 500-square-km area where the two species are frequently seen, which will be part of the future Northeast Tiger and Leopard National Park.
The monitoring system will collect real-time data on natural resources such as water, soil, and air, and send it to a monitoring and research center in Beijing, said Ge Jianping, a professor at Beijing Normal University, who is in charge of the center.
"This is the first time that a system has been built for real-time monitoring of the living conditions of these endangered animals. In the future, the monitoring network will be expanded to cover more areas," Ge said.
Siberian tigers and Amur leopards, both listed among the world's most endangered species, live mostly in northeast China and Russia's far east. At least 27 wild Siberian tigers and 42 Amur leopards are believed to live in China. They live in eastern parts of Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces along the China-Russia border.
To better protect the two species, Chinese authorities decided to build a 1.46-million-hectare national park in country's northeastern region. About 71 percent of the area is in Jilin and the rest in the adjacent Heilongjiang.
Construction of the park is scheduled to be complete in 2020, and the monitoring system will cover the entire national park by then, according to Ge, who added that there will be over 100,000 cameras to collect data on wildlife in the park.
Data with the monitoring and research center shows that in the past 25 days infrared cameras have recorded 31 appearances of Siberian tigers, 17 of Amur leopards and 97 of sika deer.
The monitoring system uses facial recognition technology to record the appearances of the animals, he said.
"This new equipment help save manpower and time, because it previously took months to retrieve the cameras from the forests," said Feng Limin, an assistant professor at the center.
"It is dangerous to go into the mountains. One of our guides came across a Siberian tiger on a patrol. He had to throw a smoke screen to scare the tiger away," Feng said.
The monitoring system can also help fight poachers, Feng said. "The system can alert forest police when illegal activities are recorded," he said.
"We hope the new system will help us build scientific and stringent management, and help protect the Siberian tigers and Amur leopards," said Zhang Jianlong, director of the State Forestry Administration.