Special open-air cage to be built for Saikhan and Lazovka’s release

Special open-air cage to be built for Saikhan and Lazovka’s release

26 April 2018

Several weeks are left until two tigers, Saikhan and Lazovka, will be released into the wild from the Centre for the Rehabilitation and Reintroduction of Tigers and Other Rare Animals (Tiger Centre), where they have been living for almost a year. The wild cats will be released together, and they will become the 10th and 11th tigers returned to the taiga after rehabilitation. For the first time, a “soft” method will be used during their release: first, a temporary open-air cage will be built at the site and the tigers will stay there for about ten days.


“During this time, they will recover from the stress of transportation. Later, the cage will be opened from a distance, without human help, and the tigers will be able to leave when they see fit,” said Viktor Kuzmenko, director of the Tiger Centre.


The “soft” release is needed to minimise the stress factor and protect the pair. The tigers will wear collars with GPS modules, enabling specialists to continue monitoring the predators.


Specialists say that the tigers have learned all the necessary skills to live independently in the taiga. The predators are quite able to feed in the wild: they hunt hoofed animals regularly and sometimes even hunt together. In addition, Saikhan and Lazovka have the right response to humans: during a test, when someone approaches the cage, the tigers always move as far away as possible.


Sergei Aramilev, general director of the Amur Tiger Centre that takes care of Saikhan and Lazovka, notes that the rehabilitation of tigers from when they are 4–6 months old is a long and risky business. “In short, the long process is over. In a word, the tigers are ready to grow up and live in the wild, in harmony with humans. Of course, everyone counts on success, but there are certain situations where tigers cannot survive in the wild. Despite the risks, we, together with the state, decided to give the tigers the chance of an independent, free life. We are not afraid about the possible failure of the “soft” release experiment because it won’t threaten the predators’ lives or health if, for example, Saikhan leaves his mate to find a new area. If everything goes well, the acquired knowledge will help us a lot,” Sergei Aramilev said.


Scientists hope that after the predators are released in the Jewish Autonomous Region, they will continue to live together and create a family, with their offspring enlarging the tiger population.