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Are Putin's tigers 'lost'... or simply roaming free of modern technology?

By The Siberian Times reporter
28 October 2015

Kuzya and Ilona shake off their electronic tags, but all signs show they thrive in wild.

Siberian tiger is among the rarest big cats on the planet. Picture: Svetlana Sutyrina

The GPS collars have stopped bleeping on two of the tigers released by President Vladimir Putin to roam free in Russia's nature. For some six weeks, the Department for Wildlife Protection has not received signals from the big cats. Is this a reason for alarm? After all, the tigers are endangered. Among the rarest big cats on the planet.

Kuzya 'lost' his collar first: the device simply stopped transmitting signals. Despite this, the tiger was traced by wildlife cameras on a grand tour of the Russian Far East, and effortlessly crossing frontiers. 

Putin's Siberian tiger cleared of eating Chinese takeaway dinner


Putin's Siberian tiger cleared of eating Chinese takeaway dinner

Kuzya was traced by wildlife cameras on a grand tour of the Russian Far East, and effortless crossing frontiers. Pictures: 'Tiger' special inspection

The tiger's journey took him through Primorsky region, into neighbouring Khabarovsk, before pawing it to China where he appeared on photo trap cameras, pausing only to become the star of an Australian documentary. Soon he was back in Russia, in the Jewish Autonomous Region.

And even if Ilona's tag is not working, the evidence suggests she is now safe in the Khingansky Reserve. Or so it seems from photo traps, her footprints, and marks on trees, old-style monitoring. Environmental official Nikolay Stepanov said only the third tiger, Borya, was in constant e-contact with his watchers. 

Tigress Ilona


Tigress Ilona


Tigress Ilona

Even if Ilona's tag is not working, the evidence suggests she is now safe in the Khingansky Reserve. Pictures: Khingansky Reserve

'The president released them in Amur region in order to restore their population,' he said. 'The number of predators has considerably dropped. Today there are about 500 (Amur tigers) left in the Far East. It is expected that Ilona, Kuzya and Borya will breed - but they haven't yet had any cubs.' 

Two of them, at least, may get the chance to do what nature intended without being spied on. Borya has now also gone to the Jewish Autonomous Region. The three tigers were released by President Putin in Arkharinsky district in May 2014. 

The Kremlin leader has spearheaded the campaign to save the endangered species from extinction.

Comments (3)

I think, it would be better for the tigers, not to cross into China, as they use tiger's parts fro medicine, if they are endangered or not, they will kill them. Glad, he left that country and might be safe also now, also from poachers.
Ria Montauban, Ormeau, Australia.
03/11/2015 10:28
1
0
For the record, I think Putin's lost in his own mind, he too busy starting & fighting wars to be interested in tigers these days. Maybe the tigers are doing their best to leave his version of Russia.
PS. But they are for sure lovely looking creatures to look at.
Jaker, Dundalk
29/10/2015 23:45
1
5
BEAUTIFUL TIGER
salvatore j. cento, brooklyn,N.Y. 11234
29/10/2015 03:00
15
0
1

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