Sunday, December 25, 2011

Russia's Siberian tigers 'face extinction'

A sub-species of tiger faces extinction by 2022 unless decisive action is taken, environmental group WWF warns.

Worldwide tiger populations have plummeted from 100,000 a century ago to less than 7,000 today.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, tigers could be extinct in the wild within a decade.
The Siberian or Amur Tiger is one of the rarest in the world, with only around 500 left in the wild in Russia. But poaching, disease, and habitat loss from intensive logging and development continues to threaten populations.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Artificial snow keeps tigers comfortable in NE China

A Siberian tiger breeding center in northeast China is using artificial snow to comfort its tigers after receiving inadequate amounts of natural snow, the center's chief engineer said.

The center's 1,000-plus tigers need snow to quench their thirst and wash themselves, but this year's snowfall has been too little to meet their requirements, said Liu Dan, chief engineer of the Siberian Tiger Park in Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang province.

The Sun Island Snow Expo Park located next to the breeding center has provided about 90 cubic meters of artificial snow for free to help the tigers deal with the mild winter, Liu said.

The artificial snow has also provided visiting tourists with entertainment, as they enjoy watching the tigers play in the snow, Liu added.

Siberian tigers are among the world's rarest species. The population of wild Siberian tigers is estimated to be around 500, most of which live in east Russia and northeast China.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Siberian tigers may disappear in 20 years

The last remaining Siberian tigers living wild in Northeast China could disappear within decades, as poaching and illegal logging continue to take their toll, experts have warned.

Research by Chinese authorities and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has discovered that the animal is already one of the planet’s most endangered species.

In just the last 70 years, the estimated population of Siberian tigers, or Amur tigers, has plummeted from as many as 300 to just 18 to 22.

“If the government fails to take effective measures, it’s foreseeable that these creatures could disappear from China within 10 to 20 years,” said Zhu Chunquan, conservation director of biodiversity and operations at the WWF’s Beijing office.

“The poaching of wild animals, which is the tigers’ main food source, is the greatest threat to their survival,” he said, adding that extensive logging in the mountainous provinces of Heilongjiang and Jilin has also massively reduced their natural habitats.

Since 1996, when hunting for wildlife was banned in both provinces, authorities have noted a sharp rise in poaching with iron-wire snares.

Zhu said traps can be easily bought in small shops close to forest areas, with most used to catch red deer, sika deer, wild boars and roe deer, which Amur tigers hunt for food.

“A decade ago, we’d see roe deer while driving by (the forests),” said Cao Zhiquan, director of Qiyuan Forest Farm in Dongfanghong township, Heilongjiang. “Now it’s even rare to see a squirrel.”

Traps also pose a huge risk to the tigers, too. In October, a dead Siberian tiger was found with a wire snare around its neck near a reservoir in Mishan, Heilongjiang. Wildlife experts said the animal did not choke to death straight away, but instead died several days later from starvation.

A WWF survey of the wild tigers’ habitats in Heilongjiang and Jilin found an average of 1.6 traps for every 10 kilometers.

“Volunteers from the WWF hold campaigns to remove traps every year, but we’ve gradually accepted the fact that we cannot clear all the traps ourselves,” Zhu said. “To effectively protect the tigers, we need to call on more people to stop eating wild animals. This isn’t something that can be done over a short time, though.”

As with poaching, illegal logging became prevalent after the government introduced restrictions, with a total ban placed on the felling of natural forest in 2000.

China’s State Forestry Administration said that due to technical constraints and poor management, most wild Siberian tiger reserves, such as the one in Wanda Mountain in Heilongjiang, still lack effective monitoring systems.

In addition, these reserves are often short of workers and do not have enough people with sufficient knowledge about tiger protection.

To preserve the precious tiger species, experts are calling for more international cooperation, especially between China and Russia.

An estimated total of 500 wild Siberian tigers live in Russia’s Far East and Northeast China, yet infrastructure construction has fragmented the populations.

“Border fences as high as 2 meters are a big obstacle for the tigers to get past,” Zhu said, adding that the WWF is looking to help China and Russia protect and restore links between the tigers’ habitats. “By doing so, hundreds of wild Siberian tigers in Russia will be able to travel to China, which will result in more cubs being born.”

The conservationist said both countries should try to make agreements to use recording devices along the border, instead of fences.

“We are striving to double the population of wild Siberian tigers in China by 2022, but more international cooperation is needed,” Zhu said.

The State Forestry Administration said China has paid great attention to international cooperation on tiger conservation and has promised more joint projects.

The country has already reached agreements with India and Russia on tiger protection, while a series of measures, such as habitat surveys and information exchanges, have been carried out with other countries and international organizations.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Volunteers to clear traps for Siberian tigers

Ninety Chinese volunteers from across the country will be chosen to clear traps set for endangered wild Siberian tigers in northeast China again this winter.

The trap-clearing campaign will be jointly sponsored by the New York-based non-profit organization Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), the Heilongjiang Provincial Department of Forestry, the Heilongjiang Provincial Administration of Forest Industry, and the Harbin Daily Newspaper Group, said Wang Lin, head of the trap-clearing team.

From Jan. 7 to 14, 90 volunteers will clear iron wire ring traps -- set by poachers to catch wild Siberian tigers during the winter -- from six areas where the tigers roam in Heilongjiang, Wang said.

The volunteers, both old and young, will be selected among hundreds of applicants across China, and will include public servants, university students, teachers, journalists, doctors and company bosses, Wang said.

"We must let more and more people, especially local hunters, know the harm of setting traps for tigers," said volunteer Shi Dalei, a senior at the Heilongjiang Institute of Technology.

The Siberian tiger, an endangered species, is a subspecies of tiger that once roamed western and central Asia and eastern Russia.

China has only about 20 wild Siberian tigers left, among which eight to 10 are in Jilin province and 10 to 14 are in Heilongjiang.

A wild Siberian tiger was found dead with a trap around its neck in the city of Mishan in Heilongjiang in late October, prompting environmentalists to call for enhanced wildlife protection.

"It is an urgent task for us to protect wild Siberian tigers. I hope more and more people join us to contribute to wildlife protection," Wang said.

During the previous trap-clearing campaign launched in January this year in Heilongjiang, about 100 volunteers braved the frigid weather with temperatures as low as minus 30 degrees Celsius to clear a total of 304 traps within a week.

Compared with a decade ago, China has made a lot of improvements in the protection of wild Siberian tigers, but problems still exist, said Xie Yan, director of the WCS China Program.

"We have found that the density of hoofed animals has been decreasing over recent years, and wild Siberian tigers are threatened with extinction," Xie said.

"The problem of animal traps is a priority for us. We should actively participate in the trap-clearing campaign," she added.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Another Siberian tiger spotted in Heilongjiang!

Last month a rare Siberian tiger was found dead in Heilongjiang, and this month another has been caught on film in the same region.

This is the first time that a wild Siberian tiger has been captured on camera in the Heilongjiang region. The cameras were set up in the mountainous Wandashan area of the Amur-Heilong eco-region after paw prints, signs of bedding, and boar kills were discovered in the area.

Dr. Zhu Chunquan, Conservation Director of Biodiversity and Operations at WWF-China comments on the siting.

    "[The photo] adds to the evidence of a possible population settlement in the region. Action need to be taken to enhance existing protection methods for tigers, such as the immediate launch of greater safety precautions, the thorough removal of snares and developing more detailed monitoring techniques.”

A snare was responsible for the death of the Siberian tiger found washed up on the banks of a reservoir in Heilongjiang last month, contrary to speculation it was killed by poachers reacting to media reports.

There are only an estimated 18-22 of these wild creatures left in China, and barely 500 left in the world that are not living on reserves, most found in eastern Russia.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

WWF snaps first shots of wild Siberian tiger in NE China Mountains

An infrared camera set up by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and forestry authorities in Northeast China's Jilin province has captured images of a wild Siberian tiger in the Wanda Mountains.

Zhu Jiang, head of the WWF NE-China Program Office, said Saturday that the photos, taken earlier this month, are the first images of a wild Siberian tiger taken in the mountainous area.

He said the evidence confirms the mountains' role as an important habitat for the endangered species, and reinforces the need for local authorities to tighten protection measures, especially improving animal rescue efforts.

The agency estimates that there are fewer than 20 wild Siberian tigers remaining in China. They live in Heilongjiang and Jilin provinces.

Zhu said animal traps still pose a major threat to the safety of wild Siberian tigers, as a WWF survey found an average 1.6 traps for every 10 kilometers in its nature reserves last winter.

A wild Siberian tiger was found dead with a trap around its neck in the city of Mishan, Heilongjiang, in October.

"The WWF hopes to cooperate with local governments to protect Siberian tigers and restore their habitats," said Zhu. "We aim to help double the population of wild Siberian tigers in China by 2022, the next Year of the Tiger," he said.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Snare suspected in Siberian tiger's death

The suspected cause of a recent death of a wild Siberian tiger was a neck snare, says an animal expert.

An animal expert checks the carcass of a Siberian tiger at Fusheng village, Heilongjiang province, Oct 28, 2011.

                                                  A rusty snare stuck around the tiger's neck.

The tiger, which was found dead on Oct 27 by a reservior in Fusheng village, Mishan city in Heilongjiang province, could have accidentally gotten stuck in the snare, possibly made by hunters using steel wire, Sun Haiyi, vice-director from the wildlife research institution, said Saturday, according to a Xinhua report.

Sun, who rushed to the village with his colleagues for a preliminary investigation, says the rusty stains on the snare suggest it has been around the tiger's neck for a while. It caused no fatal harm to the big cat immediately, but it could have affected its food in-take process and limited its hunting activities, leading to its death.

The carcass of the tiger was sent to the institution on Friday night for further post-mortem examination.

Experts also confirmed that it was a 2-year-old wild Siberian tiger, the same one that was spotted near a reservoir in the village on Oct 17.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Rare Siberian tiger spotted in Heilongjiang, found dead 5 days later

Three days ago, there was a small blip in the news regarding excited wild life enthusiasts spotting a rare Siberian tiger. Today, a Siberian tiger, possibly the same one, was found dead only 5 days after the initial sighting.

The adult male tiger had been briefly spotted by locals near a reservoir in Mishan, Heilongjiang Province on October 22nd. Scientists then descended on the area to study the extremely endangered animal's behavior, and used paw prints found near the banks to determine the tiger was a two-year-old adult.

A mere 5 days after the sighting and 3 days after the report, the dead body was found lying on the shore of the same reservoir. How the tiger died is still unknown, though researchers are currently examining the body to determine the cause.

The publicity the spotting received in the news could suggest poachers were involved in the death, but the fact that the body was abandoned seemingly intact could either suggest foul play or that the poachers were scared off before they were able to claim their prize. Either way, the death is a great loss to the fragile ecosystem in which these animals reside.

There are only an estimated 18-22 of these wild creatures left in China, and barely 500 left in the world that are not living on reserves.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Distemper – latest threat to Siberian tigers...

Distemper - a virus afflicting domestic dogs and many wildlife species - may be a growing threat to Siberian (Amur) tigers.

A team of Russian veterinary colleagues and health experts from the Wildlife Conservation Society's Bronx Zoo are collaborating to understand more about how the virus is affecting the species, helping conservationists formulate health measures to counter this latest threat to the world's largest cat.

The team of health experts, working at the Wildlife Conservation Society's wildlife health centre at Bronx Zoo, used histology along with PCR and DNA sequencing to confirm and characterise the infection in two wild Siberian tigers from the Russian Far East.

This diagnosis provides long-awaited genetic confirmation of the fact that distemper is affecting wild tigers, which WCS and Russian colleagues first documented in 2003.

Tiger wandered into village looking for an easy meal
Last year a tigress known as Galia - studied by WCS researchers for eight years in Sikhote-Alin Biosphere Reserve in the Russian Far East - walked into the village of Terney, displaying abnormal neurologic signs. She was seemingly unfazed by the new surrounding, appeared gaunt, and was searching for dogs as an easy meal. The tiger was shot by local police after several capture attempts failed.

In November 2003, a similar event occurred when an otherwise healthy looking wild tigress walked into the village of Pokrovka in Khabarovski Krai. WCS staff immobilised the animal and worked with local Russian veterinarian Evgeny Slabe in treating the tiger, which later died in captivity. Samples for the diagnosis of distemper were collected only from these two animals.

But several other examples of tigers entering villages or stalling traffic on major roadways - behaviour possibly indicative of distemper - have been reported in recent years.

Already known to kill lynx and bobcats
Distemper is found worldwide in domestic dogs and has caused infection and death in wild species such as lynx and bobcats in Canada, Baikal seals in Russia, lions in the Serengeti ecosystem in Africa, and raccoons and the endangered black footed ferret in the United States.

‘With all the threats facing Siberian tigers from poaching and habitat loss, relatively little research has been done on diseases that may afflict tigers,' said Dale Miquelle, WCS Director of Russia programmes. ‘There are no records of tigers entering villages and behaving so abnormally before 2000, so this appears to be a new development and new threat. Understanding whether disease is a major source of mortality for Siberian tigers is crucial for future conservation efforts.'

Anatoly Astafiev, director of Sikhote-Alin Reserve, said: ‘We have seen a fall in tiger numbers within our reserve, so it is very important to know that at least one of the causes is a recognisable disease, something we may be able to address and potentially prevent.'

Canine distemper is controlled in domestic dogs through vaccination. In Africa, massive vaccination campaigns of dogs in villages surrounding the Serengeti appear to have been effective in reducing the disease's impact on lions.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Rare white Siberian tiger is born at Brown’s Zoo

A white Siberian male tiger cub was born at the zoo on Sept. 8. The cub has been named Bogdan which means "Gift of God" in Russian.
At birth, Bogdan weighed a mere 1.5 pounds. Now, he weighs in at 6 pounds and has a good appetite.
White tiger cubs typically have an 80 percent mortality rate, so the celebration of this new addition is especially great for zoo owners Nancy and Ivan Brown.
"He is a blessing to us. In the wild he would have died," explains Nancy of her precious gift.
The zoo has the only white Siberian tiger exhibit in the state of Illinois and has been the only family-operated zoo in the state for the last 21 years.
Nancy explains the sad part of the story is that the cub's mother died, due to complications of the birth. A second tiger cub was stillborn. "That makes him (Bogdan) very special to us," remarks Brown, who said it was remarkable that he went to a bottle within six hours of his birth. Bogdan will not be able to see until he is about six weeks old and the Brown's are anxious to see if his eyes remain blue, or turn to brown just like his mother's eyes.
Most people think a white tiger is a Siberian, but that is not accurate, says Nancy. Subspecies of tigers can also be white in color.
"The white tiger started years ago with a white tiger being captured in the wild and brought into captivity in India," says Nancy, who has done her homework.
That tiger "Mohan" was bred to his daughters, granddaughters, nieces, and so on, explains Brown of the linage. With such a long line of inter-breeding, there is an 80 percent mortality rate in the cubs which also can suffer with scoliosis and respiratory problems. "We are fortunate to have a healthy cub. There have been no other white tigers found in the wild since Mohan," Nancy emphasizes. She explains experts in the field expect wild tigers to be extinct in a generation. There are less than 200 Siberian tigers in the wild, currently.
The Browns have raised exotic animals at their rural location for over 30 years. "We have rescued quite a few animals over the years from various situations," says Nancy. The zoo, family owned and operated since 1990, started out with a single pot-bellied pig and a few whittle deer.
The zoo currently has an expectant lion and leopard. Nancy says the cubs will be born this fall.
Currently, the zoo has over 40 different species of animals - some are endangered species. Visitors can find lions, tiger, bears, leopards, cougars, bobcats, wolves, a kangaroo, and much more.
Zoo animals are feed approximately 150-200 pounds of meat per day, 50 pounds of dog food, 50 pounds of grain, 100 pounds of hay, and other specialty feeds for some of the animals.
The zoo is located southwest of Smithfield, Ill., at 17732 N. Dairy Farm Rd. Hours are 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon until 4 p.m. on Sunday. The zoo opens on May 1 and continues those hours until Labor Day.
After Labor Day, the zoo is open on weekends from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Saturday and from noon until 4 p.m. on Sunday. Appointments are taken from those wishing to the visit the zoo during the week.
During Spoon River Scenic Drive on Oct. 1, 2, 8 and 9, the zoo will be open from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. Visitors will be allowed to feed the big cats, bears, and hoof-stock animals. They can also have their photo taken with Bogdan the new white Siberian tiger cub.
Nancy says, "We have turned our home and land into a place where we can promote and help to insure the future existence of animals, some of which are endangered. We are dedicated to the animals and want to provide them with a safe place to live in a stress-free environment. Our work is a labor of love and we truly love what we do."
In addition, the Browns say they just want to bring happiness to their visitors.
The Browns have learned through hands-on experience and have studied to keep abreast of information on their animals.
The zoo is visited by people from throughout the United States each year. Some tell Brown they are fulfilling a lifelong dream to see a certain species, or to pet a wild animal. No matter what the reason, Brown has many interesting stories to tell about her animals and their visitors.
The zoo is solely supported by admission, photo fees, and donations. The zoo travels with offsite exhibits to schools, nursing homes, libraries, camps, birthday parties, business promotions, and provides educational programs throughout the state.
Anyone who has trouble finding the zoo, or who needs assistance, can phone 309-783-2112.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Siberian Tigers Trained To Live In Wild

A Siberian tiger is seen at Erdaohe Tiger Park July 2, 2006 in Antu County of Yanbian Chaoxian Autonomous Prefecture, Jilin Province, China. (Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)

A feeder plays with a Siberian tiger cub at Erdaohe Tiger Park July 2, 2006 in Antu County of Yanbian Chaoxian Autonomous Prefecture, Jilin Province, China. (Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)


A feeder trains a Siberian tiger cub at Erdaohe Tiger Park July 2, 2006 in Antu County of Yanbian Chaoxian Autonomous Prefecture, Jilin Province, China. About 15 artificially-fed Siberian tigers from Harbin Siberian Tiger Park are being trained to develop their ability to live in the wild. The wild Siberian tiger is listed as one of the most endangered species in the world, with its existing number estimated at around 400 worldwide, mainly in the northeastern part of China and the Far East of Russia. Reportedly there are more than 1,300 Siberian tigers which have been raised in China. (Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Siberian tiger cubs make public debut

Three Siberian tiger cubs made their public debut at Russia's Krasnoyarsk Zoo this week.
Excited visitors gathered to meet the triplets, who were born at the zoo on August 5, 2011.
The zoo has a tradition of giving its tigers floral names.
Local media reported that the cubs have been named Kaktus, Jasmin and Narciss (Cactus, Jasmine and Narcissus).
Their parents Iris and Kedr (Iris and Cedar) have already had seven cubs.
Siberian tigers are one of the world's rarest species. An estimated 300 are left in the wild, mostly in Russia's Far East.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Dog Is Surrogate Mom to Abandoned Siberian Tiger

A newborn Siberian tiger living at a zoo in Qingdao, China, was all alone in the world when it was abandoned by its mother – and that's when the maternal instincts of a very special dog kicked in.

Now the pooch is acting as its mother, nursing it and treating the feline just as she does her own pup – who appears to have bonded with his sibling-in-spirit.

Siberian tigers typically stay with their mother for the first two years of life, at which point this little guy won't be so little anymore. An adult Siberian weighs about 400 lbs.!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Escaped Siberian tiger given freedom

A tigress that avoided trappers for days after breaking out of a Russian animal protection center will be allowed to roam free, government officials said on Friday.

'We tried an experiment - would a wild tiger live and produce offspring in captivity? It didn't work out, so let her live free,' an official at Russia's Tiger Special Inspection (RTSI) project told the news agency Interfax.

Hunters had been searching for the animal, a healthy 2-year-old Siberian female named Roshkosh (Luxury), since Tuesday after she broke a cage lock with a blow from her paw and escaped into a forested region of Russia's Far Eastern Primorie district.

A transponder in a collar worn by the tiger allowed trackers to find the animal's trail almost immediately, but bait in tiger traps set nearby was left untouched.

The tiger was last seen heading northward into uninhabited taiga forest.

Animal protection agency workers captured and transported the tiger to the RTSI center in July after villagers in Russia's Khabarovsk territory, some 650 kilometers to the north of Primorie district, complained of disappearing guard dogs and livestock.

Russia's rugged Far East is home to the world's largest wild population of the highly endangered Siberian Tiger. Some 350 big cats are thought to be living in the region, most in the Primorie district's Sikhote-Alin Nature Reserve.

The RTSI center is a government-funded facility for the study and protection of tigers living in Sikhote-Alin area and neighboring regions.

Russian Prime Minister Putin has been a high-profile patron of the center, and images of Putin shooting a tranquilizer dart into an adult feline have featured in his election campaigns.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

China celebrates Siberian tiger cub first

A seven-year-old tiger has given birth to a cub at the Siberian Tiger Park in Harbin, China, marking the country's first successful breeding in the wild.

After three months, the female cub is doing well and is quickly learning new skills.

A local zoologist said: "The Siberian tiger's successful breeding in the wild is an important breakthrough for us."

On June 27 and 28, the keepers could not find the female tiger, numbered 426.

They presumed she had given birth to a cub and went to look for her in a cave.

It is more than a decade since China began to study how to breed tigers in the wild.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Oil painting of Stretching Siberian Tiger

Today I finally managed to scan the final piece of the Stretching tiger in oils on linen canvas. I scanned it in 8 pieces and puzzled them together in photoshop. It’s of course no use to try and edit the colors to fit the original exactly, but I did my best anyway and that also takes it’s own time. Anyway, I still want to keep all my original scans for future references for both this website and other things. So it doesn’t really matter how many hours I put down on my scans.
So today I’m off to a birthday party and tomorrow and in Sunday to watch my sons soccer games. This will help me focus on the next paintings in line in Monday.
Anyway, here is the Siberian Tiger oil painting:

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

ZooMontana To Lose 2 Siberian Tigers

ZooMontana Director Jeff Ewelt says the zoo's financial troubles and loss of accreditation mean the loss of two Siberian tigers on loan to the zoo in Billings.

Ewelt said Tuesday that the Philadelphia Zoo will soon move the two female tigers - named Tierny and Koosaka - to another facility. Ewelt says the zoo will still have its male Siberian tiger, Prince.

ZooMontana lost its accreditation with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums earlier this year, leading to the removal of three grizzly bear cubs. An adult grizzly bear also will be relocated.

Ewelt says a veterinarian from the Philadelphia Zoo visited ZooMontana recently and felt the tigers were well cared for, but officials were concerned about the financial future of the Montana zoo.

Ewelt called the decision a disappointment.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

WWF Releases Poetic Video “The World Is Where We Live”

This latest video by the World Wildlife Fund tugged on my heart strings and caught me so off guard I nearly slipped in my puddle of tears knocking over my stuffed zebra which I keep right beside my Siberian tiger rug. If it had actually fallen over I’m almost certain it would have damaged my massive 10-foot by 25-foot wall which I recently had lined with the fur or 300 rare ocelot leopard cat skins. Thankfully it didn’t and I wasn’t distracted from the beauty of the editing that is going on in this short clip.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Playing with a Siberian Tiger Cub

Playing with a tiger straight outa the siberian ghetto.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Zoo ready for this tiger mother

There could be a baby shower comin’, but forget the diaper cakes and rattles: the perfect gift for this new mama may be something raw and bloody.
This week, Assiniboine Park Zoo officials are waiting to break out the cigars as Kendra, a 12-year-old Amur tiger, shows every sign of being ready to give birth to a litter of one or more cubs.
Zoo veterinarians aren’t 100 per cent sure that Kendra is, indeed, in a delicate condition. It’s tough to diagnose pregnancies in tigers without invasive diagnostic techniques, so Kendra’s caretakers have based their expectations on monitoring hormone levels and watching her behaviour.
And all signs point to "pregnant," zoo officials said in a release today. "Everyone at the Assiniboine Park Zoo is beyond excited about this expected arrival," said Tim Sinclair-Smith, director of zoological operations.
"We hope to see a very special addition to the zoo family in the coming days so we’re monitoring Kendra very closely and hope to have an official announcement soon."
It’s not yet known how many little mewlers Kendra might have: the average litter size for Amur tigers (also known as Siberian tigers) is two, but anywhere from one to four cubs is normal for the species.
If she is indeed ready to pop, chances are high the cubs will survive. Not only is Kendra already a mom, but the Assiniboine Park Zoo estimates its birth success rate in 2011 will reach 80 to 90 per cent, "well above the North American zoo average" according to the zoo’s statement.
If the cubs are born soon, the new family will likely get some privacy: the babies, who are born with their eyes and ears shut, will stay close to their mum until they are about six weeks old.
At that point, it’s likely Kendra will let them venture out of the den and into the wild world of the tiger exhibit, where the public can sneak a peek – and probably snap some ace YouTube videos.
They will join a long list of brand-new furries on display at the zoo this year, including baby lynxes, red pandas, musk oxen and stone sheep.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Siberian Tiger Cubs at Zurich Zoo

Three Siberian Tiger cubs were born on May 15, 2011 at the Zürich Zoo in Switzerland. There's one male named Lailek, and two females named Luva and Liska. Mom Elena was born in 2004 in the Tierpark Hellabrunn, Munich, and has been at the Zürich zoo since March, 2010. The father, Coto, was born in June 2002 at the Zürich Zoo and in fact was the last cub born there before this trio, his offspring.

Also known as Amur Tigers, this species is considered the world's largest cat. They they are mostly found in the birch forests of eastern Russia, though some do live in China and North Korea. According to National Geographic, there were once eight tiger subspecies, but three became extinct during the 20th century.
Over the last hundred years, hunting and forest destruction have reduced overall tiger populations from hundreds of thousands to perhaps 3,000 to 5,000. Tigers are hunted as trophies and also for body parts that are used in traditional Chinese medicine. All five remaining tiger subspecies are endangered, and many protection programs are in place. Poaching is a reduced—but still very significant—threat to Siberian tigers.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Siberian tiger habitat under threat

Key tiger habitat could be logged

The protests have followed an application by the wood harvesting and export company JSC Les Export for a timber lease in the Bikinsky Pine Nut Harvesting Zone in the Bikin River Basin, in Primorsky Province, Russia. This area forms one of the largest intact tracts of old-growth Korean pine-broadleaf forest in the world, and is a vital habitat for remaining populations of the Siberian, or Amur, tiger.

JSC Les Export has already been criticised after gaining approval for two forest leases earlier this year, also in vital tiger habitat and in areas which form an important wildlife corridor connecting the Russian population of Siberian tigers with the Chinese population across the border.

WWF Russia and the Association of Indigenous Peoples of Primorsky Province are now leading calls to cancel the new logging lease to protect tiger habitat in Primorsky Province.

Proposed World Heritage Site

In November 2010, the Bikin River Basin was proposed as a candidate to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The region is one of the last remaining strongholds of the Siberian tiger, whose populations have rebounded in recent decades but still face many threats.

Speaking on the possible timber lease, the Director of WWF Russia’s Amur branch, Yury Darman, said, “We regard this as a betrayal. JSC Les Export previously agreed that it would not use timber from pine nut harvesting zones or protected areas. JSC Les Export’s actions go against the company’s commitment to work towards certification under the Forest Stewardship Council, an independent organization that promotes responsible management of the world’s forests.”

Impact of logging on local people

The timber lease would also impact on the lives of the native residents of Bikin, the Udegei and Nanai, whose livelihoods depend on traditional uses of the region’s forests. The forests have been under lease since 2009 by the Indigenous Peoples’ Association, for the processing of pine nuts and medicinal plants. Residents have petitioned the provincial and federal governments not to allow leasing of the area for timber harvesting.

“This is our forest. We hunt here, fish here, gather medicinal plants here, harvest wood here for our personal needs,” said Igor Kukchenko, Vice President of the Association of Indigenous Peoples of Primorsky Province. “The inhabitants of our village Krasniy Yar have spoken out against the leasing of this forest tract by JSC Les Export and any other industrial logging in the Bikin.”

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Siberian Tiger Found in the Trunk of a Car

A Siberian tiger was found in the trunk of a car! Police in Hubei, China were tracking down a car that was involved in a hit and run accident when it hit another vehicle on the highway. Police intercepted the car and started searching it. They were probably surprised to find an animal in the back!

What’s more surprising is that the Siberian tiger is one of the endangered species out there, so how did this guy get a hold of one?! One officer, Chen Yen, commented, “There was a strong stench coming from the boot so we opened it found something wrapped in a large canvas… We unwrapped it and found a giant tiger sitting in a cage. We don’t know why the man had it or where he was taking it but he didn’t have any papers for it.”

So far, the man has not said anything related to the tiger and is in custody facing hit and run charges and wild animal abuse charges.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

China, Russia to strengthen cross-border Siberian tiger, Amur leopard protection

Environmental officials from China and Russia have decided to work together to improve the protection of Siberian tigers and Amur leopards in order to save the two endangered species.

Officials from both sides made the agreement at an environmental protection conference held on Thursday in Harbin, capital of northeastern China's Heilongjiang Province.

The decision is part of a series of environmental cooperation agreements signed by the two countries at the conference.

The Global Tiger Recovery Program will be carried out by both sides, with a panel of experts being organized to figure out the most efficient way to protect Siberian tigers living on the China-Russia border. The creation of a joint natural reserve for Amur leopards is also under consideration.

Siberian tigers and Amur leopards mainly live in east Russia, northeast China and mountainous areas in North Korea.

Less than 500 Siberian tigers and 40 Amur leopards currently live in the wild.

However, Siberian tigers have been frequently seen around China-Russia border areas in recent years, due to joint protection efforts made by both countries.

"China and Russia should break through national boundaries to protect nature jointly," said Vsevolod Stepanistskiy, deputy director of Russia's department of state policy and regulation for environmental protection and safety.

He also pointed out that it is essential to protect biodiversity and prevent these rare species from going extinct.
Both sides also reached agreements to deepen cooperation in the management and control of transnational rivers, as well as other agreements concerning wetland protection and environment policies, at the conference.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Russia to Donate Three Rare Siberian Tigers to South Korea

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SEOUL (Reuters) – Russia іѕ tο give three rare one-year-ancient Siberian tigers, two males аnd one female, tο South Korea tο boost ties between thе two countries, South Korean newspapers reported οn Friday.

Thе proposal tο give thе tigers arose frοm a translation mistake during a 2009 visit bу a Russian official, Russian news agency Itar Tass ѕаіd аt thе age. Thе official wаѕ ѕаіd tο hаνе passed a stuffed tiger аnd commented hοw nice іt wаѕ — a remark mistranslated аѕ pledging thе tigers.

“Thе two governments, through diplomatic channels, hаνе recently сhοѕе tο forge ahead wіth thе transfer οf thе tigers tο Korea within thе first half οf thе year,” a Korean diplomatic source wаѕ quoted аѕ saying.

Siberian tigers аrе regarded аѕ sacred animals іn Korea, although thе аt thе еnd one wаѕ shot dead іn 1922. Thе animal served аѕ thе mascot fοr thе 1988 Olympic games іn South Korea аnd аѕ thе badge fοr thе national soccer team іn thе 2002 Earth Cup.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Russia giving Korea three rare Siberian tigers

It’s a tiger of a deal. Russia plans to give three Siberian tigers to Korea to reaffirm amicable bilateral ties between Korea and Russia.

“The Korean and Russian governments have recently decided to bring in tigers to Korea within the first half of the year,” said a Korean diplomatic source. “This is meaningful as it symbolizes the friendly relations between the two countries.”

The three Siberian tigers, otherwise known as Amur tigers, were each said to be a little over a year old.

Zoologists have said that Siberian tigers have not been found in Korea since 1922 when the last Siberian tiger was killed in North Gyeongsang. The tigers, which are an endangered species under protection in the eastern region of Siberia, are considered mystical creatures in Korean culture.

The source said that diplomatic officials hatched a plan to have the tigers accompany Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on a visit to Korea, but was scrapped because Putin does not have plans to visit Korea anytime soon.

Korea’s Ministry of Environment is in negotiations on the transport plans for the tigers, and a group from the Korean government visited Russia last December, said the source.

Relations between South Korea and Russia soured last year when Russia did not take a more active role in blaming North Korea for the sinking of the Cheonan in March.

However, Seoul is now extending efforts to have warmer ties with Russia as North Korea has sided with China since inter-Korean relations turned cold.

According to government sources, the Russian government also hopes to have better ties with South Korea as its influence over the Korean Peninsula has weakened.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Poverty threatens the Siberian tiger genetics

Crosses between individuals of a small group have resulted in the genetic impoverishment of the whole. In the animal world, inbreeding may occur too tightly in the case of endangered species, such as the Siberian tiger ( Panthera tigris altaica ), which reduces genetic diversity and its ability to respond to critical situations such as disease.

“Most animal populations fluctuate over time. If reductions are very substantial demographic group is reduced dramatically, there may be two things: that the group is terminated or experiencing the phenomenon known as bottleneck (pronounced reduction of genetic diversity of a population), “says Samer Alas, a researcher at Doñana Biological Station (CSIC).

The detection of genetic impoverishment in species is endangered, the researchers said, of “vital importance” to the strategies of conservation of the species. “In future genetic work on animal conservation will be necessary to add the effect of genetic bottlenecks that have gone by the species, because otherwise their future could be compromised,” says Alas.

An endangered species

Research has modeled itself on the Siberian tiger, endangered species of which only about 520 copies are distributed among the forests of eastern Russia and northeast China.

A mid-twentieth century, the population of the Siberian tiger ( Panthera tigris altaica ) was much reduced by poaching and habitat destruction. The remaining specimens all went through a bottleneck that affected the genetic diversity of the species.

“Although currently there are about 500 Siberian tigers, the population behaves as if they were only 14 animals due to reduced genetic diversity. This assessment of effective population size is alarming because it demonstrates its fragility and its high sensitivity to any disease, “says Alas.

According to the researcher, the effective population size is a “factor to be taken into account in any demographic or genetic study undertaken on the Siberian tiger.”

In reaching its conclusions, the research team collected samples of blood and tissue of 15 Siberian tigers scattered along the Russian Far East, and worked in the laboratory with DNA extracted from these samples.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Siberian Tiger Population Is Drastically Low, Scientists Report

The effective population of the Amur tiger, also known as the Siberian tiger, is down to just 14 animals, scientists report in the journal Mammalian Biology.

There are about 500 Amur tigers currently surviving in the wild, but the effective population accounts for genetic diversity. BBC reports that the tiger has a very low diversity, which means that any disease or rare genetic disorders will probably be passed on to the next generation. A more diverse genetic population would increase the tiger's chance of survival -- it would be able to "cancel out" diseases and disorders with healthy genes.

The Amur tiger is the largest cat in the world. It once lived across China, Korea, and Russia, until the early 20th Century, when human settlements, habitat loss, and poaching drove the cats to near extinction. By the 1940's, less than 30 individual tigers survived in the wild -- this has now led to a "genetic bottleneck," destroying the Amur tiger gene pool. The results of this are seen today in the tiger's lack of genetic diversity.

Not just Amur tigers are at risk of extinction. The World Wildlife Fund reports that climate change may be shrinking tigers' habitat by 96%. Bengal tigers are shrinking in size due to stress over environmental changes. The WWF goes so far as to state that if no action is taken, tigers may become extinct in the next 12 years.

This past November, a summit was held focused on saving tigers from extinction. The summit's biggest news? It was probably that Leonardo DiCaprio survived a plane accident and still managed to attend. But also at the summit, countries agreed to double the tiger population by 2022 and crack down on poaching and illegal trade of tiger parts. It is an uphill battle, but one worth fighting.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The last stand for Siberian tigers?

The endangered Amur tiger is down to barely a dozen, according to alarming new research.

But the headline grabbing figure that the big cat’s effective population is just 15 is less of a threat than loss of habitat, environmentalists say.

There are about 500 Amur tigers living in the wild – but genetic researchers have found that they are descended from just 15 animals.

And that, they claim, raises the spectre of genetic disorders and other illnesses in the population.

“The worryingly low effective population size challenges the optimism for the recovery of the huge Siberian cat,” the researchers from Russia, Germany and Spain wrote in the paper published in the magazine Mammalian Biology.

Russia has invested heavily in protecting its tiger population, with Vladimir Putin personally endorsing the campaign at an international forum in St. Petersburg last year.


The research, and its gloomy conclusion, may not take into account the different effects of genetic diversity on different species, ecologists say.

“For example cats are less sensitive to it than dogs,” Vladimir Krever, biological diversity programme co-ordinator at WWF’s Moscow office, told the Moscow News.

And he pointed to the successful reintroduction of European bison into the wild to prove that the genetic pool might not be the main criteria for saving threatened creatures.

Since 1951 the European bison has returned to the wild, despite the fact that in the early 20th century there were fewer than 50 surviving animals, all living in captivity.

Tigers need trees

Today’s tigers are threatened by illegal woodcutting just as much as their ancestors were devastated by poaching.

“Currently the most burning issue is conservation of the habitat area,” Vladimir Krever said.

Poachers haven’t disappeared today, but luckily they don’t make any serious impact on the number of feline predators, Krever said, while stripping away their natural habitat clearly does.

Preserving the forests would help maintain stocks of hoofed mammals – tigers’ natural prey – and ensure that the big cats have enough to eat.

“And if we are aiming to increase their number further, it’s definitely forests restoration to start with,” Krever concluded.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Happy News for Russian Amur Tigers

Vladimir Putin backs fight to save the Amur tiger following Russian ranger's WWF award
This online supplement is produced and published by Rossiyskaya Gazeta (Russia), which takes sole responsibility for the content.

The far eastern amur tiger

Amur tiger: it is among the world's most endangered specie. Following Siberian ranger Anatoly Belov's WWF award, Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin has put his weight behind the fight to save the Amur tiger
Russia’s prime minister Vladimir Putin and rangers on the ground step up the struggle to save the Amur tiger, which national and WWF conservationists have managed to claw back from the brink of extinction.
While Vladimir Putin rallied world leaders at a “tiger summit” in St Petersburg, conservationists had further cause for modest celebration in the fight to save the far eastern Amur tiger.

In England, Russian park ranger Anatoly Belov received the World Wildlife Fund’s highest award for his 22-year battle against those who would drive the species to extinction. And back on his home turf in the Primorsky Region, the first successful prosecution in six years amid moves towards imposing jail sentences finally took the fight to the illegal hunters.

It’s been a close call for the Amur tiger, but thanks to conservationists its numbers have grown from 50 in 1960 to around 500 today. “The results of our work speak for themselves,” Mr Belov, 48, said after receiving the 2010 WWF’s Duke of Edinburgh Conservation Medal at a ceremony hosted by Prince Philip in Windsor Castle.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Feds release SF Zoo tiger attack documents

A female Siberian tiger killed in a hail of police gunfire after fatally mauling a man at the San Francisco Zoo on Christmas Day 2007 likely was provoked into leaping and clawing out of its enclosure, a federal investigator said in documents obtained by The Associated Press.

The tiger named Tatiana killed 17-year-old Carlos Sousa Jr. and injured his friends, brothers Paul and Kulbir Dhaliwal, leaving claw marks etched in the asphalt and claw fragments in the bushes outside its pen. Claw marks were also discovered near the top of the enclosure wall, which was lower than federal safety standards dictate, showing that the big cat was able to get enough leverage to pull itself out.

"It appears the tiger was able to jump from the bottom of the dry moat to the top of the wall, and gain enough purchase over the top to pull herself out over the moat wall," wrote Laurie Gage, a tiger expert who investigated the scene for the United States Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, or APHIS, which oversees the nation's zoos.

"With my knowledge of tiger behavior I cannot imagine a tiger trying to jump out of its enclosure unless it was provoked," Gage wrote in the Dec. 27, 2007 draft of her report.

That statement was stricken from the final version of the report because it was "irrelevant from an Animal Welfare Act enforcement standpoint," said David Sacks, a spokesman for APHIS. Whether or not the tiger was provoked has long been a point of contention.

After sitting with its prey for a short time, Gage wrote that Tatiana likely followed the Dhaliwals' blood trail for about 300 yards to where it resumed attacks. Photographs show blood-smeared asphalt where the tiger apparently dragged Sousa's body.

"After a kill, I find it interesting the tiger would leave a kill to go after something else unless there were a compelling reason," Gage wrote. "The tiger passed exhibits with warthogs . which it ignored as it followed (the blood trail?) of the two brothers to the Terrace Cafe outside the dining area."

The documents, provided to The AP more than three years after a Freedom of Information Act request, offer the first public glimpse into the findings of the APHIS investigation and details from the scene written by some of the officers who killed Tatiana.

Gage and inspector Michael Smith investigated the enclosure and zoo premises on Dec. 27, 2007.

In more than 65 years no other tiger had escaped from that enclosure. San Francisco Zoo officials now say the enclosure should have been safer.

"Nobody was there to witness it at that time of day, it was closing, just the people who were there and the tigers," said Lora LaMarca, a zoo spokeswoman. "We cannot prove the animal was provoked, and regardless of that, she was able to jump out which led to a whole series of renovations to that exhibit which makes sure this will never happen again."

USDA fined the zoo $1,875 for violations associated with the flaws in the tiger enclosure that allowed Tatiana to escape, and for one unrelated violation.

The USDA's findings show the tiger jumped from the moat right in front of an area where a path had been worn through plants meant to provide a sight barrier. According to the reports, the zoo complained that people often pushed through the plants and leaned over the enclosure, sometimes even putting their children on its rim.

USDA's investigators said they found "some sticks, foreign to the exhibit, and at least one pine cone inside the tiger exhibit indicating that someone may have thrown these items into the enclosure at the tigers."

The Dhaliwal brothers denied provoking the big cat, though Sousa's father told police that Paul Dhaliwal had admitted to being drunk and yelling and waving at the animal. Sousa's parents settled their wrongful death lawsuit for an undisclosed amount, and the brothers settled their lawsuit for a reported $900,000.

An attorney for Sousa's parents, Michael Cardoza, called the theory that the tiger was provoked "mere speculation" that would not hold up in court.

"Keep in mind these are animals, who knows why they do anything?" he said.

Once Tatiana found the Dhaliwals, she sat for a while near one of the bleeding brothers outside the zoo's Terrace Café.

When San Francisco police officer Daniel Kroos and his partner arrived at the café area, he saw the tiger and one of the Dhaliwals sitting near each other.

"At this time I saw the tiger pounce on top of the victim and maul him continuously for several seconds," Kroos wrote. "At this time I was not able to shoot the tiger without placing the victim in the field of fire and thereby placing the victim in further danger."

"It appeared to me the tiger was protecting its prey," said Office Scott Biggs, who was also among the first officers to respond.

After several seconds of mauling, Kroos said Tatiana stopped and headed in the direction of one of the officers.

"Fearing that the tiger was going to attack and kill Officer Biggs, or that the tiger might turn around and continue to maul the victim who could not move, I fired my department issued firearm an unknown amount of times at the tiger in an attempt to stop the threat of further attack," he said.

The officers continued to fire at the tiger, with one putting a final shot in the animal's head to ensure it was dead.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Dead mobster's Siberian tiger seized

ROME, Feb. 2 (UPI) -- Police in southeastern Italy confiscated a Siberian tiger from the compound owned by a Mafia leader who was gunned down in January, officials said.

The rare animal that eats more than 50 pounds of meat a day was turned over to forestry officials for transfer to a big cat rescue facility from the estate of Lucio Vetrugno in the southeastern region of Puglio, Italy's ANSA news agency reported.

The 55-year-old Vetrugno was shot and killed at his home in a Mafia dispute Dec. 22. Authorities said Vetrugno had kept the tiger in a large cage at his home for at least 16 years.

He was a senior member of one of Italy's four largest organized crime families.

Police said in other Mafia arrests in the past, they have confiscated a large crocodile that was used to intimidate people into paying extortion, as well as a white python that was used to guard a large stash of cocaine, the report said.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A five-month-old tiger cub looks at a rabbit in Jiufeng Forest Zoo in Wuhan

A five-month-old tiger cub looks at a rabbit in Jiufeng Forest Zoo in Wuhan, Hubei province January 23, 2011. The rabbit was put in the enclosure as a training exercise for the tiger to stimulate its hunting instinct, local media reported. Picture taken January 23, 2011.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Siberian tiger walking the highway

Russia is rich not only in bears. This video was captured on the highway from Vladivostok to Khabarovsk, near the town of Bikin (Khabarovsk krai). Attention! Russian offensive language.