After a successful six-months rehabilitation process a three-year old male Amur tiger was strong and healthy enough to be returned to the wild. As a potential conflict tiger he will be monitored for the rest of his life in the wild though.
Early November 2014 two tigers appeared within 12 kilometres of the town of Vyazemskoye in the Russian Far East Vyazamsky district of the Khabarocsky Province, killing three dogs on the premises of a mining enterprise, on the town’s outskirts. A tiger conflict resolution group was sent to capture the conflict tigers. The first tiger was sedated with tranquilizers and placed in the UTYOS Rehabilitation Centre in Khabarovsky Province in the morning of 14 November. The is the only government Centre for rehabilitation of wild animals in the Russian Far East. For his stubbornness and unwillingness to get out of the transport cage into the enclosure, this 3 year old male was nicknamed Uporny (Russian for stubborn). According to UTYOS specialists, Uporny’s condition was poor, while the other tiger that was captured was in good health. The latter was sent to a rehabilitation centre located in Nadezhdinsky district of Primorsky Province.
Uporny became the first tiger to be accommodated in the brand new enclosure of the UTYOS Rehabilitation Centre equipped with a special surveillance system, which makes it possible to avoid any unnecessary human-tiger contact. He was treated and provided with the necessary nutrients and a balanced diet, while people never came close to the cage. Because contacts between humans and the tiger were minimal, all instincts proved to be preserved — Uporny can hunt, ambush his prey, and still is afraid of humans.
This is a wild tiger. He is entirely ready to be released into his natural environmentEduard Kruglov, head of the UTYOS Rehabilitation Centre »
So, six months later Uporny was released into the wild in the area called Home of the Tiger after being rehabilitated. The Home of the Tiger mountain area is 200 kilometres away from the Utyos Rehabilitation Centre on the border with Anyuisky National Park. From now on this sparsely inhabited mountainous area in the Nanayski District of Khabarovsky Province will become home for the tree-year-old male Uporny. An adult male and a female with a cub living in an adjacent plot will be his neighbors. If the old residents do not accept a new comer he ca always escape to the national park.
“What is peculiar about this operation is that all of its stages such as rehabilitation, translocation and releasing of the “re-educated” tiger into the wild were organised and controlled by the governmental agencies responsible for the rare animal conservation, namely the Ministry of Naturel Resource of Khabarovsky Province and its structural subdivisions,” notes Pavel Fomenko, the biodiversity conservation programme coordinator at WWF Russia Amur branch.
“Non-governmental organisations only did the legwork like providing consultations and assistance on the spot. And this is the way it should be done. We have been trying to achieve for many years that the government fully carries out its responsibilities for conservation of rare species like the Amur tiger. In this particular case the efforts of all official agencies could be graded as excellent. And of course I am happy for this guy with the striped skin that people caught him at a proper time, duly stopped his disorderly conduct, provided him well care and finally awarded the animal with the most precious thing — freedom!” adds Fomenko.
As soon as the gate bolt was removed the tiger jumped out of the cage and dashed to the bush without even looking back. From now on the tiger’s route will be observed by the Hunting Department staff with the help of a radio collar with GPS module which was provided by the Amur Tiger Center.
“To work with conflict tigers in Khabarovsky Province we have chosen the advanced light radio collars currently available on the market. It is not easy to collar a tiger. You should correctly decide on a collar’s size so that an animal cannot unfasten it somehow and [roam and hunt without being further monitored, Moos],” comments Sergey Aramilev, head of the Amur Tiger Center Primorye branch.
“It is important that the collar is automatically detached when running out of power. Even after being in contact with humans only once an animal will be regarded as a potentially conflict tiger from then on. Therefore the tiger will be observed by men till the end of his life. After the collar is detached Uporny will be controlled with camera traps and using other methods. During the first month after the release it is important to understand his behaviour. Therefore a group of specialists will check constantly the locations received from satellite and identify how and what the tiger feed himself with,” adds Aramilev.
WWF Russia provided financial support for the recovery and rehabilitation of the conflict tiger brought to UTYOS Rehabilitation Centre.
The operation on his translocation was carried out by the Khabarovsky Province Hunting Department with the support of WWF and the Amur Tiger Center.
(Source: WWF Russia news releases, 17.11.2014 and 28.05.2015)