Shot in face by poachers, new cub joins three orphans recovering at Russia centre

Yarik

Two months ago, a tiger cub was admitted to the International Fund for Animal Welfare-supported PRNCO Tiger Centre with a gunshot wound to the face. There were serious doubts that he would survive.

Local residents in the Pozharskiy district of Primosrskiy krai reported the tiger cub to authorities. Hunting Inspection Department specialists, together with PRNCO Tiger centre’s Viktor Kuzmenko and others, rushed to his rescue.

While his mother and sibling were alive and safe, the seven-month-old tiger cub was brought to the centre for treatment. The cub’s mother came back to the scene in search of her baby once he had been moved.

Police and the Hunting Inspection Department officials immediately began a search for the suspected poachers.

After veterinary analysis and treatment, the tiger cub was placed into quarantine. He was named Kutuzov, but the name was later changed to Yarik (he has also been referred to as Pozharik, or Pozharskiy, based on the tradition of naming cubs after the regions in which they are discovered).

On his third day, Yarik started drinking milk. On the fifth day, natural behaviours returned: He started to groom himself and to demonstrate defensive behaviours when humans approached.

Soon after, Yarik opened his damaged right eye. His appetite and natural behavioural reactions returned.

“He greedily ate everything, broke all the bowls and tore all of the linens,” said Kuzmenko. “Broken dishes never made me so happy!”

Vets are confident now that the traumatized eye has regained the ability to see, and Yarik’s chances to be returned to the wild are increasing every day.

Centre “residents” Vladik and Filippa were not yet able to see their new neighbour as he was isolated in the quarantine space, but they definitely could hear him.

Another young female tiger who had been admitted to the centre in December from the Lazovsky District of the Primorsky Region - thus named Lazovka - is his closest neighbour in the enclosures at the centre.

She has already started to obtain hunting skills through her rehabilitation.

Lazovka herslef has been interacting with the older tigers Filippa and Vladik. They are able to see each other only through the fence of the enclosures but this social interaction is very important to their development. Where the fences of the three enclosures join together, we see “thawed” resting spaces, which means that the animals are spending long times observing each other.  As a rule, they prefer to communicate during twilight. In addition, Lazovka has already started to obtain hunting skills through her rehabilitation.

At his most recent veterinary exam, Yarik had new x-rays taken and his  stitches removed. The x-ray showed that the damaged bones of the scull are setting well. His milk teeth are being replaced with secondary dentition, which means that he is developing according to his age.

After the exam, Yarik was moved to an enclosure where he could be more closely observed by Lazovka, Filippa and Vladik.

The staff of PRNCO Tiger Center are sincerely grateful to all our partners for constant help and assistance in treatment of the injured tiger cub.

--EB

Monitoring of rehabilitated and released tigers is continued by PRNCO Tiger Center, Hunting Inspection Department of the Jewish Autonomous Region Government, Institute of Ecology and Evolution of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), staff of the Bastak and the Khingansky Nature Reserves with support of “Phoenix” Foundation and IFAW.

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