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One tiger caught in Vladivostok, but residents fear there could still be more roaming city

By The Siberian Times reporter
21 October 2016

Driver spots big cat at side of busy road, alerts police, and young male is tranquillised.

People remain fearful that more of the rare tigers - native to this region - are roaming the city. Picture: PRNCO 'Tiger Center' 

The wild predator was found at night time close to the resort suburb of Shamora, and has been removed and delivered to a rehabilitation centre at Alekseevka village, with hopes it can be released to the wild next spring - a long way from the city. 

A huge search has been underway in Vladivostok for the Siberian - or Amur - tiger, involving police and hunting supervisors with machine guns. Parents frightened to allow their children to go out, or to attend school or kindergarten. 

But is the danger over now? It is far from clear. People remain fearful that more of the rare tigers - native to this region - are roaming the city. 

As one local Ksenia commented on social media: 'It was not alone, watch the videos carefully. There are different animals there. And how did it turn out to be at Shamora so fast? Got tired of the city? Or it ran out of stray dogs?'

Tiger in Vladivostok


Tiger in Vladivostok

The wild predator was found at night time close to the resort suburb of Shamora, and has been removed and delivered to a rehabilitation centre at Alekseevka village. Picture: PRNCO 'Tiger Center' , VL.ru

Another Asya warned: 'I reckon this was not the only tiger, judging by the videos.'

Images of at least one big cat stalking the city and its environs were filmed on dashcams and cell phones. The tiger was located some 31 kilometres from the city centre, yet sightings had been made as close as 8 km from the downtown area in Russia's pacific capital with a 599,000 population. 

There were several sightings in different locations, and a representative of the WWF animal protection group earlier said he suspected there was more than one big cat on the loose.

Director of Centre Siberian Tiger in the region, Sergei Aramilev, said: 'Of course, in theory, there can be a second tiger, for example a brother of the caught one. When they are two or three years old, the tiger separates from its family.'

Tiger in Vladivostok


Tiger in Vladivostok


Tiger in Vladivostok

Local WWF campaigner Pavel Fomenko examines the tiger. Pictures: PRNCO 'Tiger Center' Land of Leopard

So far there was no hard 'evidence', he said. Iniital reports said the snared tiger - tranquillised without injury - was around one year old, but later versions suggested the animal was older, around three, but still not of full adult weight. 

Local WWF campaigner Pavel Fomenko earlier indicated there could be 'several tigers in Vladivostok suburbs'. 

At least 32 tigers from the rare but recovering species are now known to inhabit the southwest of Primorsky region, and usually 'they do not migrate alone, but in groups', he said. 'As a rule, these are family groups.'

As for the caught tiger, it was spotted by driver Evgeny Galyansky by the side of the road. He joked: 'We checked, it doesn't respond on 'kitty-kitty'.'  

Tiger in Vladivostok


Tiger in Vladivostok


Tiger in Vladivostok


Map

The tiger was located some 31 kilometres from the city centre, yet sightings had been made as close as 8 km from the downtown area. Picture: VL.ru. 

He called the police and it remained in place long enough for a hunting inspector to arrive and sedate it. A video filmed by the driver shows the animal lurking in the darkness near passing traffic. 

On the footage, his wife is heard saying: 'Tiger, stand still, don't go away.' His child says: 'Don't go, don't go, we will film you, just film!' 

Aramilev said the tiger is now 'in an isolated enclosure without contact with humans. When he is hungry, we will give him a live boar. To decide if we can release him into the wild, we need to know that he hunts large ungulates and avoids people. 

'If these conditions are met, in the spring of 2017 he will be released in some sparsely populated place, where it are a lot of ungulates. Adult tigers weigh 170-180 kilograms and more. Our tiger weights only 140 kg, it must gain weight. 

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A huge search has been underway in Vladivostok for the Siberian - or Amur - tiger, involving police and hunting supervisors with machine guns. Pictures: Vesti.Primorye

'Now he is like a freshman. He looks like a man, but needs to gain weight for confidence. We do not release animals in winter because of  the harsh conditions. In addition, badgers and raccoons, which can be food for tiger, hibernate in winter. There is a risk that the tiger will not be able to hunt. In the spring, small animals come out of hibernation, and ungulates produce offspring.'

Fomenko said: 'We are watching this tiger very thoroughly, because the tiger made a stir when came to the city. We need to understand first if the tiger can live in the wild. We will put video traps in his enclosure and will monitor him. 

'Basically the tiger has two ways - he can (be released into the) taiga, or into captivity (zoo or safari-park). If he is released into the wild, we will put an electronic collar on him.'

He said a big cat that had been through rehabilitation could be unpredictable when freed into the wild. The animal could remain 'potentially dangerous for people'.

Comments (1)

Спасибо/Thank you to the driver for calmly alerting the police and to everyone who helped capture this tiger without injury so he can hopefully return to the wild. It is very encouraging that the Amur tiger is recovering and not unexpected they would start returning to their native habitat areas. I also certainly understand this is not an animal who can co-exist in the close vicinity of a human community for everyone's safety, including the tigers. Thank you to everyone working on how to help this species recover and have its own wild habitat. I love the attempt at "here Kitty Kitty"....:-).
Pamela Tetarenko, League City, USA
25/10/2016 07:00
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