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The Siberian Times

'You can't keep me away': rare big cat flees exile and returns 700 km to Vladivostok 

By The Siberian Times reporter
30 October 2017

Legendary wild Amur tiger back to city one year to the day after he caused panic stalking residents - despite being banished to faraway wildlife park.

'He went back to Vladivostok, crossed the Trans-Siberian railway, overcame our terrible roads, and eventually now seems to have chosen China.' Picture: PRNCO 'Tiger Center' 

This amazing cat story involves Vladik, an endangered Siberian tiger, who is in love with Russia's eastern capital, Vladivostok.

A year ago we covered his escapades when he caused some fleeting terror in and near the city with frequent sightings as close as five miles from downtown.

Mothers were concerned about sending their children to school while he was on the prowl. 

Eventually he was caught and placed in a tiger rehabilitation centre but by May this year it was reported the big cat - the first to be seen in Vladivostok in 40 years  - had been 'released in a remote area far from  people'.

Tiger in Vladivostok


Tiger in Vladivostok


Tiger in Vladivostok

He caused some fleeting terror in and near the city with frequent sightings as close as five miles from downtown. Pictures: VL.ru

This was the Bikin National Park in the north of Primorsky region. 

Sergey Aramilev, director, Far Eastern department of  the Amur Tiger centre, said at the time: 'We decided to take him to the most remote area of wild taiga with a big number of hoofed ungulates as a food supply.

'I hope he'll stay there, and won't go too far and will increase the number of tigers in Bikin national reserve.' 

No such luck. 

Tiger in Vladivostok


Tiger in Vladivostok


Tiger in Vladivostok

Eventually he was caught and placed in a tiger rehabilitation centre. Pictures: VL.ru, PRNCO 'Tiger Center'

Vladik - one of between an estimated 480 to 540 adults living in the wild - soon on manoeuvres again and his satellite navigation signal showed him heading south back towards his favourite city. 

On the way he feasted on not only ungulates but at least three black bears which he killed and ate. 

He crossed some obstacles placed by man: the main Vladivostok-Khabarovsk highway and the world famous Trans-Siberian railway line. 

Almost teasing the wildlife monitors who watch his progress, he came within seven kilometres of the Siberian tiger rehabilitation centre where he had been held after his last trip to Vladivostok. 

Vladik in rehab


Vladik in rehab


Vladik in rehab

Tiger Vladik while being in rehab. Pictures: PRNCO 'Tiger Center' 

Then a year to the day since his last appearance in the city, he was spotted close to the village of Yasnoe near Vladivostok airport.

Using the signal in his collar, his wildlife watchers even glimpsed him.

This year the wanderlust tiger has carefully bypassed people - at least so far. 

For now anyway, having reached the airport, he is skirting the city and possibly angling towards China, although this adventurous cat also has North Korea as a possible destination.

Vladik in rehabilitation centre


Vladik in rehab

In 7 months in the rehabilitation centre tiger Vladik proved he can be released into the wild. Pictures: PRNCO 'Tiger Center' 

'Vladik looks a healthy and well-fed animal, and shows a normal reaction to cars and people,' said Sergey Aramilev.

'Where the predator is still moving is a mystery to us, but time will tell.' 

Pavel Fomenko, head of WWF Russia in Amur region, said: 'The story of Vladik confirms that we still do not know much about tigers. 

'We were all very worried about his fate, but now, most likely, he is where he was striving to get to. 

'I really hope that he will find his home and everything will be fine.'

Bikin

Bikin National Park. Picture: Alexander Khitrov

He added a note of caution.

'I am very pleased with the fact that the tiger passed by settlements. 

'But the story of his getting to Vladivostok suggests that the tiger is likely to become a hostage to circumstances - and a system of transport communications - that does not take into account the interests of large predators, in this case tigers.' 

But this is a cat going where it wants. 

Vladik is transported to Bikin National Park


Box is loaded to helicopter


Vladik being released into the wild


Vladik being released into the wild


Vladik being released into the wild


Vladik being released into the wild

By May this year it was reported the big cat - the first to be seen in Vladivostok in 40 years  - had been 'released in a remote area far from  people'. Pictures: PRNCO 'Tiger Center' 

And he may be showing scientists that two populations of the big cats - also known as Amur tigers - are better interconnected than had been supposed. 

'We took Vladik away 700 km to the Bikin national park  - truly the best place for tigers to dwell. 

'But he went back to Vladivostok, crossed the Trans-Siberian railway, overcame our terrible roads, and eventually now seems to have chosen China, and is going there.'

Unless there is a another twist to his tale. 

We will keep you posted. 

Comments (5)

Hope the big guy stays safe and people not bother him .
Adil, Pakistan
20/11/2017 03:12
0
0
Having seen Vladivostok I completely understand I too would like to return!!
Patricis gothard, Laguna WiodsCA USA
06/11/2017 05:02
0
0
Thank you again for carefully relocating Vladik to the Bikin National Park last year. Nature is endlessly intriguing and inherently intelligent (with a mischievous sense of humour in my opinion as well). He traveled 700 km, came within 7 km of the rehabilitation center and is possibly headed to where he had been trying to go in the first place. A Tiger with his own internal GPS. I hope, as many of us do certainly, that he can be protected while he continues his journey and we can all see where he is going. Perhaps he is headed back to where he was actually born?
Pamela Tetarenko, League City, USA
05/11/2017 20:46
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Let him be where he wants, he is happy there. He has earned the right to stay!
Maribel Rihas, South Carolina. USA
02/11/2017 07:29
3
0
That is bad for him. Next time around, he will likely be shot and killed.
Darwin, USA
02/11/2017 03:04
2
0
1

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