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.

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