Wild Cats Go Back to the Wild

 Photo by: Svetlana Sutyrina. Provided by the Center "Amur tiger"
Photo by: Svetlana Sutyrina. Provided by the Center "Amur tiger"

Tiger Saikhan and its friend, tigress from Lazo, wards of the Center "Amur tiger", have been released after months of rehabilitation. The predators have been transported to a temporary enclosure in the forest in the territory of the Jewish Autonomous District so that they could get used to new conditions, and within a week they will return to independent life.

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Photo was provided by the Center "Amur tiger"
Photo was provided by the Center "Amur tiger"

Such gradual release is used by specialists of the Center "Amur tiger" for the first time. This is an experiment that should reduce the stress factor and ensure that the animals will be successfully adapted to the wild. May 12, the specialists sedated the predators, put special GPS-collars on them and transported them from the village of Alekseyevka in the Primorsky Krai, where the animals had spent almost a year, to their new habitat.

Their location is kept secret for security reasons. It is only known that it is a remote area where many ungulates live. Right in the middle of the taiga, an adaptation aviary sized 50 to 50 meters was built for this striped couple. First, the wild cats will have to get used to this area, and in a week the enclosure will be opened remotely, without the presence of people, and the tigers will be left to themselves.

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Photo was provided by the Center "Amur tiger"
Photo was provided by the Center "Amur tiger"

The experts believe that the predators are ready for the wild life. During their rehabilitation, they have acquired hunting skills. In addition, special tests have shown that the tigers avoid people. It proves that the animals can live independently in the wild, without conflicts with the humans.

"Finally, we can let them go," commented Sergey Aramilev, General Director of the Amur tiger Center. - These cubs are, in fact, adult independent tigers. An aviary in the taiga will be temporary home for them. It's like a gateway in a spaceship that will allow them to get used to new conditions. The tigers will have a difficult task to settle in a new habitat and have offspring.”

It should be noted that the predators were little cubs when they were taken to the rehabilitation center. The tigress had lost its mother and was found in December 2016. Saikhan tiger cub was wounded by poachers and was found in January 2017 in the Pozharsky district of Primorye. The veterinarians had fought for its life for several months. Saikhan had severe injuries of the skull, eye and nose. Fortunately, the specialists managed to recover both visual function and sense of smell. Then the cubs were put into a spacious enclosure, where they soon got along with each other.  

The scientists hope that the wild cats will be a couple, bring offspring, and join a group of Amur tigers. And their GPS-collars will help follow their future life.