Yelena completes her part in tiger feeding research programme

Yelena completes her part in tiger feeding research programme

12 February 2021

Yelena the tigress has finished participating in a research programme to study the feeding habits of tigers returned to the wild. The GPS transmitter in the tigress’s tracking collar wore out, and now experts monitor the tigress by her tracks and with camera traps.


According to Sergei Aramilyev, general director of the Amur Tiger Centre, the last signal from Yelena’s GPS collar was received on 20 November 2020.


“The transmitter batteries worked without any problems for more than 18 months, which is a very good indicator, especially given the difficult climatic conditions, which, of course, drained them faster. Nevertheless, we continue to monitor Yelena, but by other means considering the circumstances. Of course, the working collar made researchers’ job a lot easier and allowed them to work all year round. Now we will receive the bulk of data in the winter by tracking, while in the summer monitoring will only involve camera traps. Today we can say with confidence that Yelena has finally settled in the Khingan Nature Reserve, and now we must wait for her to have cubs for the success of the reintroduction programme. Recently, experts have recorded the movements of a young male from the Jewish Autonomous Region around the Amur Region; let’s hope that when the time comes, we will welcome Yelena’s first offspring,” Sergei Aramilyev noted.


Since May 2019, when the tigress was reintroduced to the wild with her brother Pavlik, experts have used signals from their GPS collars to monitor their location and study their travel routes and the places they stay practically in real time. Thus researchers received unique information about the tigers’ prey and routine as well as collected biomaterial for analysis.


In 2020 alone the monitoring group experts checked 76 clusters (places where Yelena stayed for a long time) where they found the remains of 34 animals she killed, which means that the tigress was hunting regularly and successfully.


Satellite data of the tigress’s movements helped experts locate her home range and favourite routes there, which became an important factor when choosing places to mount camera traps.


“Over 18 months of observation with satellite data, Yelena brought us a significant amount of unique information about tigers’ life in the wild. Unfortunately, all equipment wears out sooner or later. Now we have to monitor her life by her tracks and with camera traps. The tigress was filmed last November and in January. Her tracks are also regularly recorded by the reserve personnel: since the New Year, they have been found in five different locations, mainly in the central part of the reserve. So there is no reason to worry about Yelena; we know for sure that she is alive and well, and that is what’s most important,” commented Vyacheslav Kastrikin, deputy director for research at the Khingan StateNature Reserve.


The scientific monitoring of the reintroduced tigress Yelena in the Khingan Nature Reserve, the Amur Region and adjacent areas is carried out by the reserve’s expert group and the Amur Region hunting supervision service with the support and involvement of the Amur Tiger Centre.