On Thursday 22nd May 2014, after a long rehabilitation period three Amur tigers were released into the wild in Zhelundindsky Wildlife Refuge, which is the northwestern part of the Amur tiger range, in Amurskaya Oblast. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin attended the release of the striped predators. Vladimir Vladimirovich gives particular attention to the state-supported Amur Tiger Programme and has already drawn public attention towards Amur tiger conservation problems repeatedly.
We would like to remind that two tiger brothers, Kuzya and Borya, together with their sister named Businka were found in November 2012 when they were 4-month-old cubs. As they were extremely emaciated, frostbitten and unable to survive on their own in the wild, it was decided to take them to the Centre for Rehabilitation and Reintroduction of Tigers and Other Rare Animals in Alekseevka, Primorsky Krai, which was built by A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution and Inspection Tiger. Unfortunately, about six months later the tigress Businka died after unsuccessful fight against Feline calicivirus disease.
Ilona, the third rehabilitated tiger that was released in Zhelundindsky Wildlife Refuge, was found near Svetlogorye village in Primorsky Krai on 25th February 2013 when she was 6 or 7 months old cub and initially was transported to Utyos Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in Khabarovsky Krai. In September 2013, Ilona was returned back to Primorsky krai in order to be rehabilitated at the Centre for Rehabilitation and Reintroduction of Tigers and Other Rare Animals in Alekseevka and prepared for return into the wild.
Two additional tigers, the female Svetlaya and the male Ustin, are waiting for their turn to be released. Their release is scheduled for June. Rehabilitation and reintroduction is implemented under the Amur Tiger Programme aimed at research and conservation of Amur tigers in the Russian Far East.
“We are happy that the tigers have been returned into the wild. The Phoenix Fund and our adherents and supporters have waited for this event for more than a year, and have provided the Inspection Tiger with financial and organizational support”, says Director of the Phoenix Fund Sergei Bereznuk. “Our staff member together with specialist of A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution visited Amurskaya Oblast just two weeks ago in order to ensure peaceful coexistence among local communities and their new neighbours. A series of lectures on relationship between human and tiger was delivered for hunters and local people. Next week there will be another trip to Jewish Autonomous Oblast, potential release site for other tigers. We would like to thank again all Russian adherents of the Phoenix Fund for their support and wish the tigers a long and happy life”.
On May 20, before their departure to a new home, the animals were observed and measured by the specialists. Also, all necessary tests were taken. Then, the tigers were fitted with satellite collars. Satellite-tracking data will allow rangers of the wildlife refuge and scientists monitor the tigers’ movements. The collars will automatically unfasten in a year, so they will not cause any disturbance to the animals.
It is not the first time when the Centre for Rehabilitation and Reintroduction of Tigers and Other Rare Animals has prepared striped predators for return into the wild. A year ago, a rehabilitated tigress named Zolushka was successfully released in Bastak Nature Reserve in Jewish Autonomous Oblast. This year, it was the largest release of rehabilitated Amur tigers ever, that became possible thanks to the joint efforts of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Inspection Tiger, A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Phoenix Fund and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).
For everyone who follows the fate of the rehabilitated tigress Cinderella: the good news came from Bastak Nature Reserve. The camera traps installed in the protected area took photos of Cinderella and a male Amur tiger!
According to reserve’s ranger who does the tracking of the tigress with the specialist from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Cinderella recently passed through the centre of the reserve. According to the tracks she was followed by the brown bear and the male tiger.
Unfortunately, due to insufficient financing the scientists cannot keep a wary eye on Cinderella’s movements. To get complete information about the tigress and her behavior after the rehabilitation and her release back into the wild at least ten more pairs of camera traps have to be installed in Bastak. We ask everyone who follows the destiny of the orphaned tigress to help us purchase these cameras by making a donation to Phoenix Fund.
“Cinderella will regularly go out of the reserve, but will definitely come back here, – says the employee of the Program of studying of the Amur tigers in the Russian Far East of the Institute of environmental problems and evolution of A.N.Severtsov Victor Lukarevsky. – This is the third or fourth time that we register her in the protected territory. It is sad that with just two cameras we don’t have a chance to gather more data on the tigress and the environment surrounding her.”
We once again want to thank everyone who contributed to Cinderella’s rehabilitation, and we will try to keep you posted!
Dear supporters, this week we would like to share with you some new photographs of the orphaned tiger cubs, which are getting ready for the release back into the wild at the Rehabilitation Centre for Tigers and Other Rare Species in Alekseevka village.
According to Center’s specialists the young predators are doing well. The cubs started their first hunting training. They successfully hunted down deer and wild boars. Both male and female tigers succeeded in killing of a large prey.
Cubs are well prepared for the winter. They have good fleshing and winter fur. After the first snow the tiger cubs became more careful. Now they are most active at dusk. Tiger Ustin and tigresses Svetlaya and Ilona became good friends — they communicate with each other through the adjacent fence.Now the main goal of the last period of rehabilitation is honing cubs’ hunting skills and we hope that all inhabitants of the Center will cope with this task perfectly well!
We are grateful to everyone who supports the Rehabilitation Centre for Tigers and Other Rare Species!
Photo credits: Petr Sonin and Katerina Blidchenko/ A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution of the Russian Academy of Sciences/ Inspection Tiger
On September 1, 2013 that Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the Rehabilitation Centre for Rare Species located in Alekseevka village. In his presence two young tigresses that were transported from Khabarovsky krai were released into the Centre’s enclosure.
After the release of 9 and 11-month-old tiger cubs, the President monitored their behaviour and movements by viewing real-time video produced by remote wildlife viewing cameras. The young tigresses began exploring the enclosure. Centre’s caretakers told Vladimir Putin about the wildlife rehabilitation process. They said that they help tiger cubs develop their stalking and hunting skills at the first moment the animals appear in the centre by releasing first rabbits and later roe deer into the enclosure with tigers.
In May, Cinderella tigress was successfully released back into the wild in Bastak Nature Reserve, Jewish Autonomous Province.
“We are monitoring its (tigress’s — editor’s note) location”, said Centre’s worker showing the dynamics of animal’s movements on the information board.
“It is better not to show it; poachers can catch it”, said Putin. The President asked about the current level of funding for the Centre and wondered how much money is required for its smooth operation. According to the Centre’s specialists, the Centre, a wood plot of 3 hectares, cost about 11 million roubles. And about 1 million roubles per year are needed to keep one tiger at the Centre. Thus, over 30 million roubles are needed for smooth full-time operation of the Centre during the year. Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Sergei Donskoi informed that about 3-4 million roubles are going to be allocated soon. Putin asked Donskoi to do calculations and find the way for financing the Centre.
“So far, the rehabilitation of tigers at the Centre was carried out by the specialists of Inspection Tiger and A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution of the Russian Academy of Sciences with support from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Phoenix Fund, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and Russian Geographical Society. Transportation of the two tiger cubs from Khabarovsky krai has become possible thanks to donations from our supporters. Now, there are five tiger cubs at the Centre, and their rehabilitation requires big investments of money,” says Director of the Phoenix Fund Sergei Bereznuk. “Given that, we hope that officials not only from Moscow-based agencies but also from Primorsky krai Administration will pay attention to this project”.
On May 8th, the tigress Cinderella was finally released back to the wild in the Bastak Nature Reserve in Jewish Autonomous Province! These entire time specialists were closely watching its every step and we keep on receiving the good news from the reserve.
The coordinates received through a satellite from Cinderella’s collar allowed us to follow the movements of a tigress, and have even shown the sites of her first hunting. After the release from the enclosure where a regular food was provided by the keepers, animals might have troubles with finding prey by themselves. On this stage it was especially important to register the fact of Cinderella’s successful hunting in new conditions. The route of tigress’s movements in the reserve, with stops for 2-3 days, allowed specialists to track down some of her kills. Several badgers and a wild boar became the first prey of a tigress. The recent coordinates from her collar also confirmed the facts of successful hunting. Having verified that in natural conditions Cinderella behaves as a normal wild tiger, the employees of Inspection Tiger are going to leave their post in Bastak and delegate responsibilities for tiger tracking to reserve’s rangers.
In the meantime we will keep on following the fate of the tigress, and support the rehabilitation of the three tiger cubs that still reside in the Rehabilitation Center for Rare Species.
Recently the two cubs (brothers) were moved to former Cinderella’s enclosure. They are doing well according to the keeper and already got comfortable in the new open-air cage. Like Cinderella they avoid people whenever someone gets to the center or approaches the enclosure to give food they hide in the remote secluded part of their new home. In June the specialist are going to start their “hunting training” by providing the prey, rabbits for the beginning.
The third cub remains in the separate enclosure. He also gains weight and acts like a wild animal that can be released into the wild in future.
We would like to thank all our supporters who made the release of Cinderella possible through donations at GlobalGiving! In spite of a cruel destiny prepared for the small orphaned tiger cub, and thanks to aspiration of specialists to save and rehabilitate the rare animal, Cinderella got her chance for a normal life. In spite of pessimistic predictions of some experts claiming that the tigress should be placed in a zoo, she roams freely in the protected forest.
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