PM's tiger still being tracked
5:15 AM Friday Nov 27, 2009
VLADIVOSTOK - A rare Siberian tiger that Vladimir Putin fitted with a radio-tracking collar is alive and well, the Russian Prime Minister's spokesman said yesterday, after concerns were raised when an environmentalist said the tracking device had gone silent.
Putin gained worldwide publicity last year when he shot the 5-year-old female with a tranquillizer gun and helped place a transmitter around her neck.
Visitors to his website could follow the animal's wandering through Russia's wild Far East.
A video of the episode is on YouTube.
Vladimir Krever of the World Wildlife Fund said yesterday that the satellite tracking device had been silent since mid-September.
Hours later, Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the batteries on the collar had been running down and wildlife scientists had placed a new collar on the tiger.
"She is alive and well," Peskov said.
He said the tiger had given birth to a cub - also now fitted with a collar.
Tigers are rapidly disappearing from the far-eastern regions of Russia because of poaching and the loss of habitat, conservationists say.
Their number may have declined by 40 per cent since 1997, the Wildlife Conservation Society said and believes only 300 remain in the wild.