A tiger captured on February 28th died 5 days later, suffering from peritonitis and impaction of the stomach. The animal, apparently in bad condition, consumed the hide of a wild boar (possibly remains from a hunter kill) and impaction of the hair in the stomach prevented normal digestive processes, leading to peritonitis and eventually death.
Calls from concerned citizens of tracks and even a direct sighting of a tiger in Mnogoudobnoye, Shkotovskii Raion, brought Okhotnadzor inspectors to the scene, where they found tracks of a tiger that appeared to have an object dragging from one foot. Early on February 28th Inspector Valery Yashmetov of Okhotnadzor returned with tiger specialist Alexander Rybin of the Wildlife Conservation Society and Dina Matyukhina of the Land of the Leopard National Park and tracked down and encountered an adult male tiger. The animal had a steel trap on the third toe of the left front paw. Apparently exhausted, the animal briefly charged the two, and then lay down in the brush nearby a forest road. Without the necessary equipment, and without permission from Moscow to capture the animal, the pair could do little but call out by phone for assistance, and hope the tiger stayed nearby. Amazingly, the tiger stayed in the same place for more than four hours while Victor Lukarevsky of Severtsov Institute, Andrey Kotlyar, Mikhail Litvinov and Mikhail Maslov from Ussuriskii Zapovednik collected the necessary capture equipment, Veterinarians from the Primorskii Krai Agricultural Academy headed towards the site, and Head of Okhotnadzor Vladimir Vasiliev obtained the necessary capture permit from Moscow. Late in the day, with permits and equipment in hand, the animal was tranquilizing, and veterinarians Irina Korotkova and Elena Lyubchenko were able to treat the wounded animal, removing remnants of the toe, putting in sutures to close the wound, and administering antibiotics.
Blood in the tracks of this tiger indicate a damaged paw (photo by D. Matyukhina)
Tigers usually rest under extensive cover. This tiger was so exhausted it lay down in an open, grassy field (photo by A. Rybin)
Alexander Rybin (WCS), Viktor Lukarevsky (Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution) and Valeriy Yashmetov (Ohotnadzor) attempting to immobilize the tiger (photo by D. Matyukhina)
The paw wounded by a steel trap (photo by D. Matyukhina)
The trap that resulted in the loss of two toes (photo by D. Matyukhina)
Surgical operation on the tiger's paw (photo by D. Matyukhina)
With eight tigers already fillingexisting structures to hold conflict animals captivity (one 15-month old and 7cubs), the most difficult question was still in front of the rescuers – what todo with this animal now? Clearly in poorshape, releasing this animal immediately back into the wild was out of thequestion – it was extremely emaciated, had a low body temperature, and unknownpotential complications associated with loss of its toe.
Fortunately, in nearby UssuriskiiZapovednik a holding center, funded by Severtsov Institute, had beenconstructed and represented the best option for short-term monitoring of thisanimal. Staff of Ussuriskii Zapovednikprovided meat, and a check-up on Sunday, March 3, suggested all was well. However, the animal died likely sometime onMonday. A necropsy conducted by staff ofthe Primorskii Krai Agricultural Academy revealed that the stomach was impactedwith massive amounts of wild boar hair, hooves, and remains of a dog. Veterinarians of PSAA, said, “we have seensomething similar when a young cub, extremely hungry, ate a hide, and died of associatedcomplications, but this was an extremely unusual case. It turned out that the steel trap was noteven this animals’ biggest problem.”
This was the ninth tiger brought into captivity overthe past year. Presently, seven remain in captivity, with hopes that most canbe released back into the wild.
The tiger at the rehabilitation center in Ussuriisky Reserve (photo by D. Matyukhina)