Second tiger sighted in Jewish Autonomous Region

Second tiger sighted in Jewish Autonomous Region

9 March 2011

Animal experts are currently verifying reports of a second Siberian tiger apparently seen prowling the forests of the Jewish Autonomous Region in Russia's Far East.


The first tiger's footprints were found there last year.


The Siberian tiger, which is on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, can be found in Russia's Primorye and Khabarovsk Territories. The latest data indicates there are now about 450-500 tigers in both regions, a spokesman for the Bastak nature reserve in the Jewish Autonomous Region said.


"Until recently, we were positive that there was a male tiger living in the region. His footprints were last seen in the reserve in the second half of February. But this time, the zoologists noticed a different set of footprints, presumably of another large cat, nearby," the spokesman said.


He said the two sets of footprints differed in size. Apart from the footprints, the keepers also found the animals' lairs. Here too, one is bigger than the other. These findings suggest a tigress has wandered into the reserve.


"The reserve is currently taking stock of its hoofed mammals. The zoologists can at the same time search for more evidence that tigers are living in our forests. They will collect tiger excrement and send it to Japan for DNA testing," the source said.


Yury Panin, the regional official responsible for local nature reserves, believes the tiger sighted there last year is indeed living at Bastak.


"It's rare to see a tiger living alone for a long period of time," Panin said. "However, this tiger seems to have settled here. One reason why he decided to stay is that there is probably a female tiger living somewhere near. The keepers must have seen her footprints."


He said the male tiger living at Bastak must be an adult and large beast. He is also very active and moves around a lot, so local zoologists have nicknamed him Gulyashchiy, the Russian for 'Wanderer'.