China / Society

Putin's tiger believed to be photographed in China

By ZHOU HUIYING (China Daily) Updated: 2014-11-14 08:18

Infrared cameras at a nature reserve in Heilong jiang province have captured photographs of a Siberian tiger.

The images were caught at Taipinggou Nature Reserve in Luobei county, Chen Zhigang, director of the reserve, told Chengdu Commercial Daily on Wednesday.

"In the past month, the remains of wild boars and deer that were hunted by giant animals were found in the reserve. There has never been a tiger here and it may be Kuzya," said Chen.

Kuzya, one of three Siberian tigers released in Russia, was reported to have reached the reserve on Oct 9, according to GPS satellite data disclosed by a Russian researcher.

Three tigers were released into the wild by Russian President Vladimir Putin in May when he visited an animal care center in his country's eastern region of Amur.

Kuzya and the two others, Ilona and Borya, were fitted with GPS collars so that researchers could track their movements.

Sixty infrared cameras have been set up across the nature reserve in the hope of capturing tiger images or tracks.

Russian researcher Eugene Simonov said, "According to the latest GPS updates from Russia, Kuzya's tracking device indicates he entered the Taipinggou Nature Reserve, so there is a possibility that the images are of him.

"As far as I know, there is a good ecological environment and sufficient food in the reserve for Kuzya," Simonov added.

His only fear for Kuzya is the traps used to catch other animals.

"I'm afraid he may be hurt by the traps, but I know that for the past month, a team of forestry officials has been working to clear the traps, which can ensure his safety," Simonov said.

Chen added: "We will send the photos to Russian experts as soon as possible and we have reported the sighting to relevant departments. We have also notified local farmers about the tiger's presence and told them to safeguard themselves and avoid scaring the animal."

Simonov said that according to the latest GPS updates, Usyin has also reached the Sino-Russian border. He was released into the wild in June and is Kuzya's elder brother, he said.

Taipinggou Nature Reserve, which covers 20,000 hectares, is a provincial-level reserve that will soon be upgraded to the national level.

Fewer than 500 Siberian tigers remain in the wild.

In November 2010, then-premier Wen Jiabao and Putin, his then-counterpart in Russia, agreed on the goal of trying to double the world's wild tiger population by 2022 to save it from extinction.


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