WCS Russia staff captured an incapacitated Amur tiger in the Amur region of the Russian Far East, but what ails the tiger is still a mystery. Sunday evening WCS staff members Nikolai and Alexander Rybin assisted in immobilizing the cat a second time to obtain x-rays and samples needed to determine whether diseases are affecting the tiger.
Although 300-400 tigers live in Khabarovskii and Primorskii Provinces of the Russian Far East, tigers disappeared from the more western Amur Province more than 30 years ago. Yet WCS received the unusual request to assist the Russian government agency Inspection Tiger to track down and capture a wounded tiger reported in the region. WCS has the only specialists in the Russian Far East trained in the capture and immobilization of the big cats.
WCS staff were able to find the animal and noted that its hindlegs were not functional, which could be due to an injury (collision with a vehicle, or perhaps wounding from another animal) or could be a symptom of a disease affecting the central nervous system. Several Amur tigers have already been diagnosed with canine distemper, which often appears to be fatal for tigers.
Although specialists were able to get initial visual observations on the animal by January 30th, the tiger was too dangerous to approach by foot, and therefore the capture took place on January 31, when Khingansky Nature Reserve was able to locate an all-terrain vehicle to safely position WCS capture specialist Nikolai Rybin to deliver an immobilizing agent. Specialists were then able to move the animal to a cage and bring it into a warm and safe environment. The animal, a male, proved to be extremely thin, suggesting the injury or problem had occurred some time ago. However, no evidence of bruises or broken bones could be detected based on the preliminary examination.
Veterinarians from Amur Province arranged to transport x-ray equipment to the site, where the animal was tranquilized a second time on the evening of February 2. No evidence of a broken hip and or vertebrae could be found, and no obvious abnormalities of organs were noted. Samples were collected to assess the potential of disease related problems, and will be shipped to Moscow and Vladivostok on Monday for analyses. Until full analyses are complete, the tiger will remain in Amur Oblast, being kept warm and well fed until its fate is determined.
Amur tigers disappeared from Amur Oblast more than 30 years ago, but tracks of the big cat are occasionally reported there, mostly males dispersing from Khabarovskii and Primorskii Provinces looking for a new home.
WCS specialists captured incapacitated Amur Tiger. Photo courtesy Vyacheslav Kostrikin
Transfer of captured incapacitated Amur Tiger. Photo @WCS Russia