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201329Jul17:46

Reha­bil­i­tated Amur tigress suc­cess­fully released back into the wild

Infor­ma­tion
pub­lished 29 July 2013 | mod­i­fied 30 May 2014
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In the win­ter of 2012 a female Amur tiger cub was found orphaned in Far East Rus­sia. When found and res­cued by Inter­na­tional Fund for Ani­mal Wel­fare (IFAW) she was exhausted and suf­fered frost­bite on the tip of her tail. So at the reha­bil­i­ta­tion facil­ity in Alek­seyevka vil­lage, near Vladi­vos­tok, about 7 cen­time­tres of her tail had to be amputated.

Cinderella tigress Camera TrapShe was named Zolushka, which means Cin­derella in Eng­lish. At the reha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­tre she was taught essen­tial sur­vival skills, of which two are most impor­tant: hunt­ing prey and avoid­ing human beings. There­fore human con­tact was reduced to the absolute min­i­mum. She made good progress and a group of world’s experts on Amur tigers decided that she could be released in the begin­ning of May 2013. So, after hav­ing Cin­derella more than twelve months at the reha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­tre and doing great, prepa­ra­tions were made for her release on May 9th. She was tran­quilised by using dart guns, which wasn’t an easy job because as soon as she smelled humans she hid her­self in the large enclo­sure — as she was taught to do so. After she was immo­bilised, she was mea­sured and exam­ined, includ­ing blood sam­ples. To be able to track her in the near future she was fit­ted with a satel­lite collar.

Cinderella’s new home was to be Bas­tak Nature Reserve, which is about 1000 kilo­me­tres from Vladi­vos­tok, near Biro­bidzhan. The trans­port was done by car, because using a heli­copter proved to be impos­si­bly expen­sive. After an exhaus­tive ride they had to switch trucks to reach the release site. The crate with the tigress was uploaded on a tank-​like off-​road vehi­cle to be able to travel across the reserve terrain.

Bas­tak Nature Reserve was cho­sen for Cin­derella to be released, because tigers used to live in the area. Although peo­ple killed them all, and there were no tiger sight­ings there for many years, one male tiger was seen reg­u­larly in the area since 2006. So intro­duc­ing an Amur tigress in the neigh­bour­hood could lead to off­spring in the near future, hopefully.

When the crate was offloaded and the door lifted Cin­derella took her time, but finally she leaped out of the crate and dis­ap­peared in the for­est towards freedom.

The received satel­lite data showed the tigress move­ments across the reserve ter­ri­tory, and ascer­tained that she was alive. Her move­ments in the wild have been mon­i­tored for over two months now. At first, she mainly stayed within the area of the release, but grad­u­ally she increased her ter­ri­tory. Now, two months after release, she has roamed the entire Bas­tak Nature Reserve. Based on the satel­lite coor­di­nates, they know that she approaches rivers and appears to be suc­ces­ful in killing prey, because approx­i­mately once every 710 days she remains in one spot for quite a long time. At these spots remains of killings have been found, includ­ing bones and left­over hides of wild boars and badgers.


Other organ­i­sa­tions involved in Zolushka’s res­cue and release back to the wild, besides the IFAW, are: Sev­ertsov Insti­tute of Ecol­ogy and Evo­lu­tion at the Russ­ian Acad­emy of Sci­ences, Phoenix Fund, Inspec­tion Tiger, and Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion Society.

(Source: IFAW news 03.06.2013 and 26.07.2013; IFAW YouTube chan­nel)

UN Biodiversity decade

Goal: 7000 tigers in the wild

Tiger range countries map

Tiger map” (CC BY 2.5) by Sander­son et al., 2006.

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