Russian scientists select the three Amur tigers that will go to Iran

Russian scientists select the three Amur tigers that will go to Iran

27 October 2011

Specialists with the Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution at the Russian Academy of Sciences have examined three Amur tigers under the Amur Tiger programme, run by the Academy’s permanent expedition for the study of species listed in the Russian Red Data Book of endangered animals, and of other threatened species, and working to restore the Turan (Mazandaran) tiger population.


The three animals will be handed over to Iranian specialists to implement these programmes, a Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection press release issued after Russian-Iranian talks said.


Russian scientists shared the results of the animals’ DNA testing, determining them as being Amur tigers, with their Iranian colleagues, as well as data on their gender and age. DNA testing has proved that the animals belong to the Amur tiger subspecies.   


The endangered tigers, which are to be handed over to Iran, are currently being kept at the safari park in Gelendzhik. They were taken there after being removed from their previous owners, who worked as photographers – offering passers by the chance to take their picture with the animals.


“In the next few months, through to the end of the year, our specialists will head to Iran to evaluate the conditions in which the tigers will be kept,” said Timur Chernyshev, spokesman for the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection.


Comments by Sergei Naidenko, Chief Researcher at the Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, Russian Academy of Sciences:


“The Caspian tiger, also known as the Turan tiger, disappeared in the Soviet Union in the 1950s and now this subspecies is considered extinct. Previously it lived in West and Middle Asia. The work Mitochondrial Phylogeography Illuminates the Origin of the Extinct Caspian Tiger and Its Relationship to the Amur Tiger by Carlos A. Driscoll et al. (2009) stated that Caspian and Amur tigers were likely to have once formed a single contiguous population, allowing the authors to describe the Amur tiger as having originated from the Caspian tiger, and therefore to consider them a single subspecies. This gives Iran the opportunity to breed Amur tigers transported into the country from Russia and to release them into the wild.”