Following his rescue on 16 November Tikhon, a rare Amur tiger cub found alone and starving in the Russian Far East, is settling into the rehabilitation centre in Alekseevka village. He is now receiving special care, round-the-clock feeding and veterinary support preparing him for a return to the wild thanks to your generous support .
Ekaterina Blidchenko of the Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution of the Russian Academy of Sciences takes up his story:
“Life in rehab is very different for a wild tiger born to live in the taiga. Living in enclosures with their food supplied tigers have a lot of free time. And how do they spend it? Well, like all species of cat, sleeping most of the time.Tikhon is no exception. Waking up, Tikhon watches the world go by: listening to the sounds, capturing the smells. Sometimes Tikhon interrupts his contemplation to take care of his beautiful fur. In general, life is calm.
“But the other day this serenity was disturbed when a group of roe deer approached the enclosure. Little did they know about the danger on the other side of the fence! Having noticed the guests Tikhon began to investigate. Even through the monitors we felt the inner turmoil of a wild cat, a born predator. But only the tip of his tail showed his excitement – his dark tail tip twitching nervously from side to side. The rest of Tikhon’s body remained still; he only pressed his ears a little, a tiger trying to hide! Were it not for the cage separating tiger from his prey a feast would have happened, but for now the deer were safe. And when they whipped out of sight Tikhon’s life resumed its normal course. Although he continues to keep his eye out for their return! (pictured).”
Tikhon’s rehabilitation will take several months and when the team is convinced he is strong enough to face life in the wild once more he will be released. While it may seem kind to keep Tikhon safe from predators at the centre the instinct of a wild tiger cannot be served in captivity. Born to walk at least 50km a day and to seek a mate Tikhon’s most important role is to help wild populations of Amur tiger survive and thrive.