VIDEO + PICTURES: Why are nature reserves so important to Russian tigers?

Zolushka. © Bastak Nature ReserveSeveral days ago almost at the same time we received updates about two female Amur tigers Zolushka and Ilona.

I continue to be amazed by modern technology.

It is really nice to receive photographs of these much loved tigers and to see them both in good health.

Bastak Nature Reserve sent our team a recent video of Zolushka and some photographs taken by trail cameras during the last one and a half years of Zolushka's life in the forest.

Zavetnyi. © Bastak Nature Reserve

We also got a glimpse of Zolushka's prince on these photos – a male tiger called Zavetny, he is a very handsome animal!

RELATED: Five Amur tigers continue to thrive in wilds of Russia


Ilona, like myself, found the trail cameras very interesting, unlike me, she decided to taste one of them.

Several shots of Ilona at night. © Khingan Nature Reserve

As a result of Ilona’s tasting attempt, Khingan Nature Reserve lost its best trail camera, which was placed near the reserve’s ‘marking tree’. This tree is one where many animals come to mark their territories; wolves and lynxes, bears and tigers, as well as boars, roes and other hoofed animals do this.

Many animals travel their reserve’s ‘marking tree’, making it a good tracking marker.

Such locations frequented by many animals are described in many natural reserves, where constant monitoring of animals is possible.

The nature reserve staff placed two trail cameras in the vicinity of the tree: one was very near, another one – slightly further away.

Ilona, like myself, found the trail cameras very interesting, unlike me, she decided to taste one of them. © Khingan Nature Reserve

A week ago, the young female tiger either was really annoyed by the object, or really interested in it. As a result the staff was able to retrieve only parts of the external case of the trail camera, and its flash card was not found. But according to Vyacheslav Aleksandrovich Kastrikin, head of the reserve’s scientific department, luckily Ilona not only feeds on trail cameras, but also on prey which is more natural for the predator.

Multiple confirmations of her proper diet were detected. The video recorded by the neighboring trail camera showed that the female tiger is quite well-nourished.

Let's hope that the last remaining trail camera won’t pique Ilona’s appetite!

Borya, Svetlaya & Kuzya

Borya is not far from Ilona, and it seems to me that they know that one is moving not far from the other.

It is interesting that Svetlaya also made her home in a protected area – Zhuravliny Wildlife Sanctuary. We regularly receive satellite data from Svetlaya and from other tigers released in the spring of 2014.

She spends a large portion of time in the Jewish Autonomous Region. Kuzya after having returned from China selected the same area and now moves not far from Svetlaya.

So it appears that right now all released tigers, apart from Ustin, prefer the protected areas: Bastak Nature Reserve, Khingan Nature Reserve and Zhuravliny Sanctuary.

It is possible to assume this is not a coincidence, but rather is due to the fact that the tigers are able to find enough food in these territories. Even in China, Kuzya selected a protected territory as his temporary home - Taipingou.

In this way, we could say these tigers are showing people how important these natural reserves are to wildlife.

We should actively maintain and labour to expand specially protected natural territories like these.


For more information about IFAW efforts to protect the world’s last remaining wild tigers, visit our campaign page.

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Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation
Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation Program
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Consulting Senior Advisor to the CEO on Strategic Partnerships & Philanthropy