Tough winter for Siberian tiger – orphaned cub dies
David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation working to save Siberian tigers
It's been another tough winter in the Russian Far East. With snow drifting to over two meters, prey species - trapped in the drifts - have become the easy victims of poachers. It is no surprise then that having removed the tiger's main source of food that the big cats have sought alternative prey and come into the villages.
There have been many cases this winter of tigers and cubs coming into contact with humans. Lost, alone and frightened, a rare Siberian tiger cub was found cowering in a disused mine after locals reported frenzied dog activity and seeing tiger tracks in the snow.
Alerted, the Game and Rare Species Department (Regional Hunting Management Department) set off for the village of Avangard in the Partizansky district of Russia. About 100 meters away from the village houses, the inspectors encountered dogs' tracks together with fresh tiger tracks (7 cm/2.8 inches paw size). The trail led to an abandoned mine.
Cub captured - 4 month old female
The team examined the building and underground pipelines and found the scared animal. After blocking the exits the inspectors contacted specialists of the Wildlife Conservation Society-Russia (WCS) who arrived and caught the tiger cub. It was taken to the Ussuriisky Nature Reserve where specialists examined the cub that turned out to be a 3 - 4 months old tigress. Her general condition was thought to be satisfactory although she was very thin.
Probably orphaned by poachers and driven to the town in search of food, the fate of this rare tigress was uncertain. Rehabilitating tigers is notoriously difficult and plans were made for her to live out her days at the Utyos rehabilitation centre for wild animals. Despite travelling well and recovering from the anaesthetic, she did not survive - with the post mortem showing that she had been unwell for some time with lung disease.
Several other cases of tigers seeking food in villages have been reported with domestic dogs and horses falling prey to the hungry cats. Resolving these conflicts is never easy but the specialists of the regional Game and Rare Species Department are working hard to protect both the tigers and the local communities.
Education still plays such a vital role in enabling man and tiger to live together and the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation continues its support of the Phoenix Fund in the Russian Far East providing anti-poaching, rehabilitation and education services in a bid to protect one of the planet's largest and most beautiful big cats.
Lyuti - another orphaned tiger that DSWF supports through its adoption programme - is doing well, having recovered from his dental work and his new golden tooth last year.