Amur tiger released back to the wild!
The following post was filed by Masha Vorontsova, the International Fund for Animal Welfare's Russia Director, following the release of an endangered Amur (aka Siberian) Tiger, one of only 450 remaining in the wild.
Last week, in Russia’s Far East, a 14-month old male tiger was successfully released after six months in rehabilitation. Prior to the release, the young tiger was radio-collared by scientists from the Russian Academy of Science who will monitor the cub after the release.
When the orphan tiger cub was found on the 1st of March of this year in the village of Avangard, no one even believed there could be a happy end to this story. The small and weak tiger cub, which at the age of eight months weighed only 17 kg, came to the village in the call of hunger.
In his desperation, the starving cub tried to kill a villager’s dog. Alerted by the noise, locals immediately contacted the government’s tiger protection team: Inspection Tiger to ask for help.
This tiger rescue, unlike many others, was an easy one. The tiger cub was so weak that it took little time for the specialists from Inspection Tiger to catch and move it to a temporary enclosure in Razdolnoe. This enclosure was build with support from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) in 2007 for what was ground-breaking rehabilitation work with four orphan tiger cubs. For a few weeks, the tiger was cared for by Oleg Grinenko from Inspection Tiger, but at the end of March a group from IFAW under the leadership of IFAW’s Emergency Relief Director Ian Robinson, visited the cub and deemed the animal a good candidate to be rehabilitated and returned to the wild. At that moment, IFAW then issued a grant to support the veterinary care and feed for the tiger.
Different organizations including IFAW, WCS, the Phoenix Fund and the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources came together for intensive consultation and arrived to a consensus that yes, the young tiger had an excellent chance to be successfully re-introduced to the wild and that it should be moved into a larger enclosure at the Zoological Center, part of the Russian Academy of Science’s Institute of Biology and Pedology for an extended period of rehabilitation.
From the 28th of May up to the day before his release, the tiger was under the daily care of Dr. Viktor Udin. In order to help the tiger quickly gain his weight back, Udin was feeding him porridge with vitamins. In the first month, the cub was able to gain 10 kg. Among the important tasks in rehab, Udin needed to teach the cub to avoid people and to hide from them; create a healthy fear of humans so that the tiger would not be tempted to return to any villages which would lead to life-threatening tiger-human conflict.
The tiger made amazing progress in his six months of rehabilitation. He grew to become a 70 kg.-strong and young tiger, who showed a fear of humans and who could hunt for its prey species.
The tiger cub was released on September 16, at the buffer zone of the Ussuriisky Nature Reserve. This was only the second tiger released into the wild in Russia after extended rehabilitation.
The monitoring of the cub will be conducted by the scientists from the Russian Academy of science. Since 2007, IFAW has been involved in the rehabilitation of six orphan tiger cubs. We wish this last one a safe life back in the wild, his natural home.