Bastak Reserve location
In the beginning of March Dale Miquelle, Director of Wildlife Conservation Society, and Yuri Petrunenko, scientist at the Pacific Institute of Geography, Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, traveled to Bastak Reserve in the Jewish Autonomous Region to continue providing assistance in the monitoring of Zolushka, the tigress released in Bastak year ago
All information that we have been able to obtain to date suggests that Zolushka appears to be in good health, and is thriving in Bastak. She continues to focus her activities in upper Bastak River, but she appeared near the apiary in the central part of Bastak Reserve for the first time in March 2014– an area rich in wild boar. The fact that the male tiger has been in direct contact with Zolushka, and that there may have been some mating behavior, is extremely good news. Although Zolushka is still a bit young to produce cubs (the earliest we have noted for Amur tigers in the wild is 3 years, and Zolushka is about 2.5 years old), but establishing a relationship with this male is extremely important and represents the first step for reproduction to occur in Bastak.
Additional tracks of a male have raised the possibility that there may be a second male is traveling through this region, but this is very uncertain. It is now necessary to put out more cameras over a broader area, both to determine how far Zolushka roams beyond the Bastak River, and to determine what other tigers might be traveling in the area.
Listening for Zolushka Tracks of a male tiger on the road
Photo of Zolushka, taken on February 23rd in the upper Bastak River,
and a photo of a male tiger taken on February 27th at the same site
A very unusual find - a large lynx killed by a tiger in Bastak
Reserve. Only the right hindquarters were partially eaten
by the tiger
Wolves photographed in Bastak on February 19th,
four days before Zolushka was photographed
at the same site
A secondary, but very interesting event we recorded in March was the killing of a lynx by a male tiger in Bastak. To our knowledge, this is the first such recorded event. While there is much discussion about competition between carnivores, it is extremely rare to actually record such direct conflict. We were able to backtrack in snow to determine that the tiger chased the lynx approximately 120 m before catching it, and then dragged the carcass about 40 m to a brushy, secure area before feeding on the carcass. However, the tiger ate very little from the carcass.
It’s also a well-known fact that wolves often disappear where tigers become abundant, and so it was interesting to note that wolves are still traveling in the same areas as Zolushka and the male (and photographed at the same sites).
Camera traps will be useful in monitoring the development of this relationship between large carnivores, and determining whether an increase in the tiger population in Bastak will result in the decline of other large carnivores (most notably wolves and lynx).
The Wildlife Conservation Society plans to continue working with Bastak Reserve staff to monitor Zolushka and keep our website readers informed.