Siberian tigers to be released in Bonghwa
A couple of Siberian tigers will be released on a mountain range in Bonghwa, North Gyeongsang Province, in 2014 following the opening of an arboretum there.
The Korea Forest Service announced the plan to free the tigers into the wild there during a groundbreaking ceremony Friday for the National Baekdu-daegan Arboretum.
The Siberian tiger, also called a Mt. Baekdu tiger, will roam the Baekdu-daegan, which is a mountain range stretching from Mt. Baekdu in North Korea to Mt. Jiri in the South, referred to as the spine of the Korean Peninsula.
“We aim to free the Siberian tigers as a symbolic animal in Baekdu-daegan and preserve the species,” an official for the forest agency said.
Wild tigers are believed to be extinct on the Korean Peninsula.
A 6,000-square-meter “tiger forest” will be formed in the arboretum on Mt. Munsu at about 1,205 meters above sea level, in a thickly-wooded area with pines and other trees, according to the agency.
The two animals — five-year-old tiger Geumgang and six-year-old tigress Geumsong — were donated by China’s State Forestry Administration last October in gratitude for its Korean counterpart’s anti-desertification efforts there.
They are currently at Daejeon O World and will be moved to the forest in the latter half of 2014.
For people’s safety, the habitat will be encircled with 5 to 6 meters of electric wire fences, a height tigers cannot jump over. Visitors will be able to view the tigers from observatories to be set up around the area.
“In the long term, we plan to increase the population to 30 through breeding and expand the forest to 10 times the current size,” the agent said.
Besides the tiger forest, the 51-square-kilometer arboretum will have a facility to store forest plant seeds, a botanical garden with climate indicator plants and research centers for mountain flora.
It will be committed to preserving plants, preserving and restoring the forest ecosystem in Baekdu-daegan and providing education on forests.