Sunday, February 19, 2012

Eleven tigers in a single photograph is a rare sight, indeed

Tigers are exceedingly rare. They're also very solitary creatures. So why are there 11 of them gathered in this photograph?
These aren't your typical tigers. The cats you see here live in China's Heilongjiang Northeast Tiger Forest Park, the largest Siberian tiger breeding base on Earth. When it was founded in the mid eighties, the Park had only 8 tigers. Today, that number is estimated by some to be upwards of 800.
New Scientist's Rowan Hooper writes:
The Siberian tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) - also known as the Amur tiger - is classified as endangered on the IUCN Red List. Most of the estimated 400 Siberian tigers in the wild are in Russia, with a few in China. The wild ones, not unlike those in this tiger park, are heavily inbred, having passed through a genetic bottleneck in the 20th century, during which 95 per cent of all tigers were killed.
This means that although the Chinese park contains hundreds of Siberian tigers, and there are those wild ones in Russia, the population's genetic diversity - which is a good guide to its vulnerability to extinction - is equivalent to that of just 14 individuals.
Eleven tigers in a single photograph is a rare sight, indeedThese tigers live, hunt, play, and even feed together — taking meals from trained caretakers, prowling for young steers that are released into the park, and chasing down live chickens, which tourists can pay to fling at the massive predators.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Rare siberian tiger kills bus driver in China

A rare Siberian tiger attacked and killed a tour bus driver in northern China as he was checking his vehicle that was trapped in the snow, Chinese media reported.

The tiger pounced on driver Jin Shijun and dragged him into the forest at the world's largest Siberian tiger breeding base in the northern province of Heilongjiang, the state-run Xinhua News Agency said.

The report on Monday's attack cited a spokesman at the base, which has about 1,000 Siberian tigers.

Siberian tigers are one of the world's rarest species. An estimated 300 are left in the wild, but more than 5,000 are kept on farms and wildlife parks across China.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Tigers at Blank Park Zoo undergo rare insemination procedure

Two Siberian tigers at the Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines underwent a rare artificial insemination today that could help the endangered species survive in the wild.

Natural breeding has failed for nearly a decade. Now researchers must wait about 40 days to find out if Goldy is pregnant by Kavacha’s sperm.

If successful, it would mark the first time this particular insemination method — advanced by scientists from the Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens — has helped Siberian tigers in captivity have cubs.

Two scientists from Cincinnati flew to Des Moines to help with the surgery. The project is a joint effort by the zoo, Iowa State University and the Cincinnati researchers.

Scientists said if the procedure is perfected with frozen semen, it could be used to improve the genetics of both captive and wild populations.

Siberian tigers, after decades of hunting, poaching and habitat destruction, are critically endangered. Fewer than 400 are estimated to live in the wild; 143 are in Association of Zoos and Aquariums-accredited institutions.

The number of recorded artificial insemination attempts with tigers is between 50 and 60, but only two or three have been successful.