Orphaned Amur tigers returned to the wild
Three orphaned Amur tigers, two males and one female were successfully released to the wild in the Russian Far East this week. This is the largest release of rehabilitated Amur tigers ever and underlining the importance of the event, Russian Federation president Vladimir Putin attended the release. President Putin is known for his personal investment in the Russian State-supported Amur tiger rehabilitation project.
Two tigers released were brothers Borya and Kuzia. The cubs were found, together with a third female cub which later died presumably from a calicivirus infection, near Andreevka, Primorsky Krai in November 2012. The rescued tigers were moved to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Alekseevka in the same region. Their estimated age was four months and their weight only 35 pounds. Another female tigress released with the brothers has the name of Ilona. All the tiger cubs were presumed to be orphaned after poachers killed their mothers.
Two additional tigers, the female Svetlaya and the male Ustin, are scheduled to be released in early June.
A year ago, a rehabilitated tigress named Zolushka (Cinderella) was successfully released. Recent data and images gathered from camera-traps set in the forest, show that she has successfully adapted to life back in the wild.
“The tigers were prepared to go back to the wild; they are in good physical shape, successfully stalking and hunting their natural prey and avoid human beings,” explains Dr. Viatcheslav Rozhnov, Deputy-Director of the Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution.
During the rehabilitation process, all contact with humans was eliminated. Monitoring the tigers was done through remotely-operated video cameras.
On May 20th, the tigers were immobilized, weighed, measured, and fitted with satellite collars. They were placed inside custom-built transport crates and moved 1,700km by road to their final release site in a remote protected area in the Russian Amur region. An IFAW veterinarian consultant followed the entire journey to monitor the health of the tigers. Satellite-tracking data will help rangers monitor the tigers’ movements.
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