Orphaned Tiger Now A Mother

July 18, 2017

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Photo Credit: PROO Tiger Center

Fantastic news for Siberian tigers. A recent photograph provides further evidence that tigers are re-colonizing lost habitat in Russia. We previously shared with you the story of Zolushka, an orphaned Amur tiger cub who was rehabilitated, released into the wild, miraculously found a mate and had cubs. Now, a second orphaned Amur tigress, Svetlaya, has become a mother after rehabilitation and release back to the wild.

The image above shows Svetlaya walking along a trail in April 2017 with her back half caked in spring mud. But what really has scientists celebrating is that the photograph reveals the legs and shadow of at least one cub.

After her release, Svetlaya established a home range in the Zhuravlinii Wildlife Refuge, where, amazingly, another rehabilitated tiger named Borya found her in 2015, after venturing almost 200 miles from his own release site. Regular monitoring revealed that Borya and Svetlaya stayed in close proximity to one another through the past two winters, and often shared kills. Female Amur tigers rarely produce cubs until they are 3.5 to 4 years old, an age Svetlaya reached only in fall of 2016. So the arrival of a cub is right on time.

“This image demonstrates not only that we can rehabilitate and release tigers back into the wild, but we can use this process to recolonize lost tiger habitat," noted Dale Miquelle, WCS Tiger Program Coordinator. "This capacity is important not only in Russia to recolonize the Pri-Amur, but in many countries in Asia where tigers have disappeared from suitable habitat.”

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