Monitoring expedition to habitat of reintroduced tigers ends in Jewish Autonomous Region

Monitoring expedition to habitat of reintroduced tigers ends in Jewish Autonomous Region

21 November 2022

Specialists from the Amur Tiger Centre, the Centre for the Rehabilitation and Reintroduction of Tigers and Other Rare Animals (Tiger Centre) and the Hunting Supervision Department of the Jewish Autonomous Region have completed their expedition to the habitat of reintroduced tigers. They came back with new information about the tiger Grom, tigresses Lazovka and Filippa, and other tigers living in the south of the region.


The tiger Grom has tripped all camera traps on all routes. The cameras have also recorded many roe deer, red deer and elk. There were also occasional boars, bears and smaller animals in Grom’s hunting grounds.


At least three female tigers – Svetlaya, Lazovka and Filippa – permanently live in Grom’s grounds. As established in December 2021, Svetlaya had already given birth to at least two cubs from Grom. This was her third litter. Her first two cubs were from Grom’s father, Boris.


During the previous monitoring expedition, the assumption was confirmed that Lazovka and Filippa were the most likely mothers of new tiger cubs.   


“Lazovka keeps surprising us. Her collar is still working. Now she is certainly the record holder for keeping her transmitter collar among all the reintroduced tigers in Russia. In fact, her collar told us that she had a litter. Her collar showed us a typical multi-petal flower – dots reflecting its location on the map. The tigress returns to her cubs in the den often and walks in different directions for more successful hunting. That said, the collar cannot tell us how many cubs she has in her litter. This is why we have to check it in the field. We were pleased to see that the trail camera footage of Lazovka confirmed that she had a litter. We will soon find out how many cubs she has,” said Amur Tiger Centre Director Sergei Aramilev.


He recalled that according to the comprehensive 2021-2022 census, there are more than 20 Amur tigers in the Jewish Autonomous Region.


“Less than 10 years ago, when the programme to restore the tiger population had just been launched, there were only one or two tigers that came into this area from the Khabarovsk Territory. Now the Jewish Autonomous Region can be considered an integral part of Russia’s tiger habitat. This is the result of meticulous cooperation by a team of domestic experts, which has received recognition from the top level,” Sergei Aramilev noted.


Another tigress that is periodically recorded in Grom’s hunting grounds is his sister Groza, but the camera traps have not recorded her recently. The researchers believe her hunting area just slightly overlaps that of her brother where most camera traps are located, and where she does not often go.


“Due to weather, the camera traps in the Jewish Autonomous Region have not been checked since February. Since then, thickets have appeared on the trails we created with our all-terrain vehicle and where we installed cameras. This is why some tigers have stopped following these trails when moving about in the taiga, and is probably why the cameras did not record Svetlaya and her cubs. It is also important to remember that Svetlaya is always reluctant to show off her cubs to the camera,” Tiger Centre Director Viktor Kuzmenko said.


He added that some camera traps have recorded Filippa. “She is very likely to be a nursing mother. This has been confirmed by several local residents who visit the forest. They have seen evidence of adult females and cubs where Lazovka and Filippa live,” Viktor Kuzmenko explained.


This is the third or probably even the fourth litter for Lazovka, who was released into this area in 2018, and at least the third litter for Filippa who returned to the taiga in 2017.


When cubs grow up, they leave their parents to look for their own hunting grounds. In this way, they replenish the tiger population in the Jewish Autonomous Region and the neighbouring Amur Region and the Khabarovsk Territory, as well as in China.


The steady increase in the number of tigers in the Jewish Autonomous Region is the result of the releases of reintroduced tigers into the wild with a view to creating a sustainable tiger population on the border of their historical habitat. Monitoring these wild cats through camera traps is vital for studying the Amur tiger. In the field, the experts take data from previously installed devices and also do maintenance on the cameras (replace batteries and memory cards), and they also set up new automatic cameras.


By monitoring the behavior of the reintroduced animals, specialists can control their comfortable life and receive new information on their relations with animals that have not encountered humans before. Today, the photo-monitoring network in the Jewish Autonomous Region covers the key sections of the tiger habitat and is continuously expanded through cooperation between the Amur Tiger Centre and its partners.