Amur tiger was released into the taiga after a three-month rehabilitation

Amur tiger was released into the taiga after a three-month rehabilitation

29 May 2022

The Amur tiger caught in February this year was released into the wild after three months of rehabilitation at the Tayozhny Wildlife Refuge in the Krasnoarmeisky District, Primorye Territory.


The tiger had been attacking dogs close to the village of Verkhny Pereval in the Primorye Territory over a two-week period in February. The predator was caught and brought to the rehabilitation centre on 26 February this year. Specialists determined the tiger’s age, which was 20 to 24 months, and also found that one of his fangs was broken, plus, there was a ragged wound on its front paw.


Sergei Aramilev, general director of the Amur Tiger Centre, explained that the tiger had recently separated from its mother and was looking for its own hunting ground. As the tiger began to lead a separate life, he encountered a snowy winter, sub-zero temperatures and the current low number of ungulates due to an outburst of the African swine fever in the tiger’s habitat. Apparently, after finding the village, the tiger started to hunt stray dogs, later attacking dogs on chains. The tiger must have sustained several injuries during his hunts.


Veterinarians stitched the wound on the tiger’s paw, which soon healed, but they had to extract the fang. They dismissed the idea of replacing the tooth because the tiger’s jaw bone tissue had not matured yet. According to the specialists, there is nothing to worry about as a tiger can easily make do with three fangs to get food.


“Tigers can hold their prey with their strong front paws and long claws; so to bite their prey through the vertebrae to quickly kill it, three fangs will work,” Sergei Aramilev said. “We are sure that the tiger will be able to manage on its own in the wild. Also, we have learned from practice that, in our climate, tigers over 5 years old seldom have all four fangs anyway.”


The tiger’s seven successful practice hunts at the rehabilitation centre showed that it could hunt ungulates on its own. Also, it behaved towards humans as was expected of a wild animal. The positive results in rehabilitating the tiger indicated that the predator could be released into the wild. A special commission decided this. An analysis of the data obtained during the last count of the Amur tiger in the winter of 2021-2022 helped the specialists choose the location to release the tiger in.


“When we considered locations to release the tiger into the wild, we were primarily guided by four things: remoteness from populated areas, sufficient food for the tiger, the security of the area, and the absence of other male tigers,” said Alexei Surovy, First Deputy Minister of Forestry and Wildlife Protection of the Primorye Territory. “A territory bordering the Tayozhny Wildlife Refuge in the Krasnoarmeisky District met all the requirements. We obtained data on the density of the ungulates and the presence of other tigers in the area during, among other things, the Amur tiger count. The local hunting control agency based at Melnichnoye Cordon, as well as gamekeeper hunting provider service, are responsible for the 24-hour protection of the fauna in the area.”


The positive test results, the tiger’s “resume” and the potential location for releasing him into the wild were approved by Rosprirodnadzor (Federal Service for Supervision of Natural Resources). 


On the evening of 26 May, a Primorye Territory hunting control agency inspector shot the tiger with a remote injector to immobilise the animal at the rehabilitation centre enclosure. Veterinarians examined and weighed the tiger, attached a tracking collar and put him in a transport cage. When they reached the selected site, the door opened and the tiger was off in an instant, vanishing into the taiga.


Specialists will be monitoring the tiger via its GPS collar and also during field verification of the data supplied by the electronic device. The Amur Tiger Centre will release regular statements on how the predator is adapting to the wild environment. 


The country’s specialists have accumulated unique experience in rehabilitating and reintroducing Amur tigers to their natural habitat. Since 2013, this as yet nameless tiger is the 14th predator that has been released into the wild.


This event was supported by the Amur Tiger Centre, the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife Protection of the Primorye Territory, and the Centre for the Rehabilitation of Tigers and Other Rare Animals.

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