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'Siberia is indeed a land of superlatives: bigger than Europe and the US combined, with the biggest gas reserves in the world'

Unique experiment as endangered ‘young tiger couple’ to be returned into the wild

By The Siberian Times reporter
17 May 2018

She and he were cruelly orphaned by poachers, and he was also shot and wounded but is now cured: how will they cope together roaming the wild?

Last picture taken in the rehabilitation centre before the release into the wild. Picture: PRNCO 'Tiger Center'

The Amur tiger species is still far from secure, although numbers have risen and there are now 550 of these distinct big cats - the largest in the world - living in the wild.

Male Saikhan and female Lazovka will be released in eastern Russia’s Jewish Autonomous Republic in the next few days. 

They have been raised deliberately to permit them to cope with the wild. 

Specialists are confident that the tigers are ready for a free life.

Tigers immobilesed before travel


Tigers immobilesed before the travel


Tigers immobilesed before the travel


In special transportation cage


In special transportation cage

On 12 May they were immobilised and put into special transportation cages. Pictures: Amur Tiger Center

These two Amur - or Siberian - tigers have honed their hunting skills and shy away from people. 

On 12 May they were immobilised and put into special transportation cages.

They were then put into a large enclosure and when the moment comes, the fence will vanish and they will be able to return to the wild.  

The place they will be released remains a closely-guarded secret and both have endured hardships on their road to a unique experiment. 

Lazovka was found in December 2016 on the outskirts of Lazo village.

She was five months old and exhausted. 

Tigers in the temporary enclosure


Tigers in the temporary enclosure

They were then put into a large enclosure and when the moment comes, the fence will vanish and they will be able to return to the wild. Pictures: Amur Tiger Center

After two weeks of waiting for her mother, the cub was taken to the Rehabilitation Centre for Siberian Tigers and other rare animals. 

It is likely the mother was killed by a poacher and at that moment her cub was helpless.  

Saikhan was delivered to the centre one month later, his muzzle wounded by a gunshot. 

There were fears for his life. 

Tiger cub


Lazovka

Lazovka was found in December 2016 on the outskirts of Lazo village. Pictures: Gorod B

But animal doctors restored the integrity of the facial part of his skull, especially the nasal bones and upper jaw.

They mended the visual function of the eye, which was severely injured. 

The cub was given his name Saikhan, meaning 'noble, beautiful’.

At the tiger centre he made a miraculous recovery.

The pair were put together in one enclosure, and soon became ‘inseparable’.

Injured cub


Surgery


Injured cub

Saikhan was delivered to the centre one month later, his muzzle wounded by a gunshot.  Pictures: PRNCO 'Tiger Center', Anna Yachmennikova

Rangers hope they will remain together as a 'couple' after their release, although this is a unique venture and nothing is certain. 

Sergei Aramilev, centre director, said: 'The cubs shared a common fate. They lost their mothers, and were injured.’

They have grown up together, played, and learned to hunt. 

'For us, cubs’ plays look like fun, but in fact, predators learn to attack a future victim and defend themselves from enemies.' 

Pavel Fomenko, head of the Department for Conservation of Rare Species at the Amur branch of WWF Russia, said: 'This case is unusual. 

Saikhan and Lazovka together


Saikhan and Lazovka together


Saikhan and Lazovka together

Rangers hope they will remain together as a 'couple' after their release, although this is a unique venture and nothing is certain. Pictures: PRNCO 'Tiger Center'

‘We are releasing two tigers at once in the hope that this social group will survive in the wild. A mild release is actually a scientific experiment. 

'This is one of the important elements of ensuring the guaranteed survival of rehabilitated tigers in the wild. 

'The specialists have done a great job, starting with the withdrawal of the cubs, when they were small and in a helpless state, and in the way they were kept and rehabilitated. 

'I would like to express my gratitude to everyone for the work done.'

Comments (2)

Fingers crossed .... prosper please
Grant HIbbs, Canada
19/05/2018 04:15
4
0
Congratulations and thanks to the team involved in saving this two young tigers from certain death. Tragic that both cubs lost their mothers' to poachers and I hope and pray that once released these two beautiful young tigers will successfully live out their lives together and help increase the numbers of the endangered 'Amur' tiger.
www.tigersintheforest.com
Michael Vickers, UK
18/05/2018 15:31
6
0
1

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