An Australian doctoral candidate will probably be included in a group of Chinese volunteers who will clear traps set for endangered wild Siberian tigers in northeast China this winter.
"I really hope to join the trap-clearing campaign. I am looking forward to doing something for the protection of Siberian tigers," Melissa Pettigrew, who is working as a volunteer for the China Program of the New York-based non-profit organization Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), said Friday.
She said she had worked with lizard protection in an Australian nature reserve and is now working to protect Siberian tigers in northeast China's Heilongjiang province.
"Melissa loves wild animals very much. It will be good training for her if she can participate in the trap-clearing move," said Xie Yan, director of the WCS China Program and Pettigrew's instructor.
According to a plan, 90 Chinese volunteers from across the country will be chosen to join in the trap-clearing campaign, which has been staged every winter over recent years.
From Jan. 7 to 14 next year, they will clear iron wire ring traps -- set by poachers to catch wild Siberian tigers during the winter -- from six areas where the tigers roam in Heilongjiang province.
"Melissa will probably be chosen as one of the volunteers because of her wildlife protection experience and excellent professional qualities. If admitted, she will be the first foreign volunteer in our campaign," said Wang Lin, head of the trap-clearing team.
"That shows that the protection of wild Siberian tigers goes beyond borders," he said.
The volunteer application deadline is Dec. 28, and people of all ages and professional backgrounds are invited to apply, he added.
The trap-clearing campaign will be jointly sponsored by WCS, the Heilongjiang Provincial Department of Forestry, the Heilongjiang Provincial Administration of Forest Industry, and the Harbin Daily Newspaper Group.
The Siberian tiger, an endangered species, is a subspecies of tiger that once roamed western and central Asia and eastern Russia.
China has only about 20 wild Siberian tigers left, among which eight to 10 are in Jilin province and 10 to 14 are in Heilongjiang.
A wild Siberian tiger was found dead with a trap around its neck in the city of Mishan in Heilongjiang in late October, prompting environmentalists to call for enhanced wildlife protection.
During the previous trap-clearing campaign launched in January this year in Heilongjiang, about 100 volunteers braved the frigid weather with temperatures as low as minus 30 degrees Celsius to clear a total of 304 traps within a week.