Rehabilitated Russian tiger cubs should learn to fear humans

We have mentioned more than once that our tigers are acquiring hunting skills successfully. Now we needed to ensure their proper attitude towards humans, so we have staged a number of tests. c. IFAW

A tiger that is to be released into the wild should learn to hunt, he or she should learn to communicate correctly with its own species, and he or she should also learn to fear humans.

We have mentioned more than once that our tigers are acquiring hunting skills successfully. Now we needed to ensure their proper attitude towards humans, so we have staged a number of tests.

Related: Rehabilitated Russian tigers heading into the homestretch

All observations are remote, so we can watch the tigers' reaction without disturbing them. Our tests are quite simple: one person walks by the tigers' enclosures, and another person watches the tigers' reaction through a camcorder.

Good news, all the tigers have passed the tests successfully.

Success means that a human is unable spot a tiger while walking around the enclosures. All our tigers have learned to take cover and hide using their surroundings to their advantage. The team was able to observe certain differences in the tigers' behavior though.

Kuzya and Borya were assessing the distance to the man who walked by and moving to the farthest possible point from him, always crouching and staying low as they moved. Moving like that, a tiger is virtually invisible against the background of contrasting snow and dry grass patches. Then, they would move to a new point and take cover there. And they kept watching the direction in which the man was going in order to put as much distance as possible between them and him every time.

It is interesting that the two siblings were almost always moving and taking cover together, next to each other.

The tiger Ustin's actions were slightly different in that, Ustin selected the very central point of the enclosure equidistant from the encircling fence and laid low there watching the man; only his head was turning.

That is, Ustin has found the least accessible point at the largest possible distance from the potential threat. Eventually, none of these tigers were able to be spotted. These observations testify to the fact that the tigers, despite growing up in captivity, still fear humans, and they are also able to extrapolate.

These qualities will help them survive in the wild. 

--EB

For more information on IFAW efforts to protect wild tigers, visit our campaign page.

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Experts

Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Gail A'Brunzo, IFAW Wildlife Rescue Manager
Wildlife Rescue Manager, IFAW HQ
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
Peter Pueschel, Director, International Environmental Agreements
Director, International Environmental Agreements
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Regional Director, South Asia