In Eastern Russia, hope for a rare Siberian tigress

The viewing blind in the rehabilitation area.I am standing on a viewing platform, inside a camouflaged hide.

I am not moving.

I hardly dare to breathe.

Extreme stillness is essential. My gaze sweeps across the scene before me of thicket and shrubbery. But I see no tiger – and that is good news. Because I am presently at a tiger capture and rehabilitation station near Vladivostok. And for a successful release to the wild it is of fundamental importance that the tiger does not become accustomed to the presence of people and so remains wild.

Later, in the huts of the station, I am nevertheless able to convince myself of the presence of a young tiger. I see on the monitor of the surveillance system how the tiger slinks along the fence of the extensive and near-natural enclosure.

This six or seven month old female tiger was found in the forest by hunters in early 2012, alone and in a pitiful condition. It is most likely that her mother was shot by poachers. Luckily, the hunters brought the helpless tiger cub to the rehabilitation station.

Here Cinderella, as she was named by her caretakers, received veterinary care and was restored to health, thanks to the financial assistance of IFAW. The aim is to release the tiger back to the wild after the coming winter.

The survival of each individual tiger is of utmost importance, because the Siberian tiger has become extremely rare, due to the destruction of habitat and poaching, and is under a grave threat of extinction.

The sole remaining animals of this variety number less than 400 (latest estimation shows decreasing of population) and reside in far eastern Russia, in the Primorsky and Khabarovsk region.

Consequently this rehabilitation station performs a worthwhile contribution towards the protection of endangered species. The establishment of the station was permitted by the Russian authorities, but IFAW was intensively involved in the planning and conceptual orientation from the early stages on.

Cinderella is the first in this center.

So I now cross my fingers for this young tiger’s hopefully imminent release back to nature.

And I am not at all sad that I was unable to see her with my own eyes.


Translation: Alan Frostick

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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
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