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.
In March Cinderella continued to hunt rather professionally. Her prey animals were deer and boars. The tigress is 18 months old now. At this age young tigers begin their independent life in the wild nature. The final phase in Cinderella’s hunting training is the search of a prey (deer) in the neighboring open-air enclosure. In spring white snow cover in the enclosure turned into a yellow blanket of last year’s fallen leaves with gray brushwood and bushes. In this landscape Cinderella became hardly noticeable and changed her behavior. She worries less and is ok with people’s presence in the center as the tigress can hide in her enclosure really well.
The three tiger cubs spend most of the daytime in their wooden lodge (8 x 4) where they were kept initially before the release to the quarantine open-air enclosure. Now they leave the lodge only in the morning and evening twilight – during their activity peak. After Cinderella’s release back into the wild the cubs will occupy her enclosures, both rehabilitation and hunting ones.
The fifth tiger cub Ustin is living in the spacious reserve open-air enclosure where there are two dens and other conditions for successful rehabilitation.
During the first week of January 2013 residents of Svetlogorye village, Pozharsky district of Primorye, found tiger cub paw prints near the human settlement. Although there were no conflict cases yet, local people started getting nervous and informed local law enforcement agencies about the young predator. Tiger specialists immediately arrived at the scene in order to find out what caused the animal to approach the dwellings. According to specialists of Primorsky Hunting Management Department, there were four tiger cubs wandering about. Three of them made their way to the north – Khabarovsky krai, and the one left in Primorye. No tracks of any adult tigresses were found nearby.
The cub was captured on January 9th. As the animal was extremely emaciated, it was decided to transport it to the Utyos Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Khabarovsky krai which is located not too far from Svetlogorye village. There were fears that the cub would not get through a long trip to the Amur Tiger Rehabilitation Centre located in the south of Primorye (almost an 8-hour drive). The young predator will be kept at Utyos for at least a couple of weeks until vets can decide the fate of the animal. If the tiger regain its health quickly, it will be transported to the Amur Tiger Rehabilitation Centre for further rehabilitation where Centre’s caretakers will prepare the animal for release back to the wild.
It is known that cubs left without a mother in the wild are completely vulnerable and cannot survive on their own. Discovering tiger cubs roaming without their mother in the wild means that something must have happened to the adult tigress, otherwise, it would have never left its cubs alone. Experts will investigate the case and try to find out what have happened with the mother tigress.
Sergei Bereznuk, director of the Phoenix Fund:“That’s the second time this winter when orphaned tiger cubs are found in the wild. The first case occurred in late November 2012 when three cubs were found without their mother, and now they are kept at the Amur Tiger Rehabilitation Centre near Alekseevka village (Nadezhdinsky district of Primorye). And now,one more tiger cub has been rescued. Probably, three other siblings will be captured soon too. This is certainly a very alarming sign for the Amur tiger population. It might be supposed that tigresses had been killed by poachers. If the tiger cubs found this winter die, the population will lose NINE individuals only within the first half of winter. That is why our top priority now is to successfully rehabilitate them for return to the wild. It is extremely needed to provide finanacial support to the Amur Tiger Rehabilitation Centre, help keep tigers there and purchase necessary equipment“.
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