Amur tiger cubs born in southeast Siberia for first time in a century

Posted on 10 April 2006  | 

Vladivostok, Russia – The first birth of Amur tiger cubs in over a century has been reported in southeast Siberia, according to WWF.

Scientists who travelled to the Amur Region and the Amurskaya province to check the reports found traces of cubs they said were about six months old and their mother in the snow-covered taiga — the huge stretch of snowy forest that stretches from Russia’s border with Finland to it’s border with North Korea.

Amur tigers are highly endangered and have been lost over the years through poaching and habitat loss from many critical areas and former ranges. The fact that tiger cubs have been spotted in this area —  700km from known Amur tiger breeding areas — is seen as welcome news by conservationists.

"The tigress and small cubs could not have come from another region,” said Yelena Starostina from WWF-Russia. "This means they were born here."

The tiger cubs were first spotted in the Zeiskii Nature Reserve by a driver who claims to have glimpsed two cats with long tails about the size of a lynx on a busy road at night.

Upon hearing the news, the reserve’s scientists Elena Krasikova and Sergei Podolskii from the Institute for Water and Ecological Problems searched and then discovered the prints of two cats. One front paw pad measured 5.5cm, the other 6.5cm.

In October 2005, a hunter reported seeing a tigress with cubs several kilometers from the area. However, there were doubts as Far Eastern tiger researchers could not recall any time within the last century of a proven case of tigers breeding in the Amurskaya province.

WWF said tigers found in the Amur region may have migrated there from the neighbouring Primorye and Khabarovsk Territories in Russia's Far East, home to a population of some 450 Amur tigers, according to the latest count.

“The fact that we are getting reports of Amur tigers expanding their breeding territory is cause for real celebration, especially at a time when tigers are in real trouble in many other parts of their range," said Sandra Charity, head of WWF-UK’s Species and Forests Programme.

“This is a fabulous example of how the huge efforts of conservationists both in Russia and around the world really can work.”

For more information:
Joanna Benn, Communications Manager
WWF Global Species Programme
Tel: +39 348 726 7313

There are only about 450 Amur tigers living in the southern Amur-Ussuri region of Russia’s Primorski and Khabarovski Krais provinces, with a few found across the border in northern China and Korea.
© WWF-Canon / Vladimir Filonov Enlarge
Traces of Amur tiger cubs in southeast Siberia.
© WWF-Russia Enlarge

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