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Reha­bil­i­tated Amur tiger released back into the wild in Russia

pub­lished 12 May 2017 | mod­i­fied 12 May 2017

On 29 April 2017 a young, female Amur tiger named Fil­ippa, was released into the Russ­ian wilder­ness after almost two years of reha­bil­i­ta­tion. The tigress was raised and trained to sur­vive in her nat­ural habi­tat of the Pri­morye Region of the Russ­ian Far East at the Cen­ter for Reha­bil­i­ta­tion and Rein­tro­duc­tion of Tigers and Other Rare Ani­mals (PRNCO “Tiger Cen­ter”) sup­ported by the Inter­na­tional Fund for Ani­mal Wel­fare (IFAW).

Amur tigress filippa releaseAmur tigress Fil­ippa, a video still from the footage of the actual release back into the wild.
Credit IFAW.

Fil­ippa, who weighs 90 kilo­grams, is in excel­lent phys­i­cal con­di­tion and has passed all the pre-​release tests. She has been fit­ted with a GPS satel­lite track­ing col­lar for post-​release mon­i­tor­ing while she adjusts to life in the wild.

The Dichun Regional State Nature Sanc­tu­ary was specif­i­cally cho­sen for her release site fol­low­ing exten­sive research by the Fed­eral Super­vi­sory Nat­ural Resources Man­age­ment Ser­vice and IFAW.

In 2015, Fil­ippa was found as an ema­ci­ated, orphaned tiger cub, her mother most likely killed by poach­ers. She was dis­cov­ered by res­i­dents of Fil­ip­povka vil­lage in the Khasan­sky Dis­trict near the bor­der of the Land of the Leop­ard National Park, who gave her the name Filippa.

National park staff deliv­ered Fil­ippa to the PRNCO “Tiger Cen­ter” and she soon showed signs of improve­ment. Food and vet­eri­nary sup­port of Filippa’s reha­bil­i­ta­tion was pro­vided by the autonomous non-​commercial orga­ni­za­tion “Amur Tiger Cen­ter”. She is now fully reha­bil­i­tated into a clever and expe­ri­enced hunter, ready for life in the wild. She is one of a total of seven tigers that have been released into the Far East of Rus­sia to repop­u­late the area with Amur tigers.

Reha­bil­i­ta­tion of large car­ni­vores is a multi-​stage process. How­ever, there are two key ele­ments. The first most impor­tant stage is ensur­ing sur­vival of the injured ani­mal: in cap­tiv­ity, a wild ani­mal expe­ri­ences immense stress and dis­com­fort. This work deter­mines suc­cess of fur­ther reha­bil­i­ta­tion and prepa­ra­tion for release. The sec­ond key ele­ment is the release itself. After a year and a half of being taken care of in cap­tiv­ity the tigers once again find them­selves in new con­di­tions — full free­dom in the wild. First weeks after release are not easy as well. The young tigers need to learn to make inde­pen­dent deci­sions, choose their way and deal with dan­gers. Of course, dur­ing this time, we really worry for our “grad­u­ates,” but know­ing, how well Fil­ippa learnt to deal with chal­lenges we would like to believe that she will find her place in the wild,” said Eka­te­rina Blid­chenko, zool­o­gist with the PRNCO “Tiger Center”.

See­ing a rare wild ani­mal return to the wild, one feels both glad and very anx­ious! We are happy to be involved in this impor­tant work and hope Fil­ippa will have a long and healthy life in the wild,” said Masha Vorontsova, Rus­sia and CIS Regional Direc­tor at IFAW.

Con­tin­ued mon­i­tor­ing of the released tiger will be imple­mented by the Depart­ment for Con­ser­va­tion and Man­age­ment of Wildlife Resources of the Jew­ish Autonomous Oblast government.

(Source: IFAW press release, 28.04.2017)

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