In the course of our ongoing scientific study of tigers in Sikhote-Alin Biosphere Reserve, on November 7, 2009 we captured two 1.5-year old tiger cubs, a brother and a sister, whom we named Anya and Valera. Anya received a GPS collar, the newest in radio-collar technology, which would provide us vast amount of important information about her movements, her daily habits, and her life as a whole as she grew up.
At this time, Valera still lives in the same region of the Reserve where he was captured. Apparently, he still follows his mother from time to time, and has not yet dispersed to seek out his own territory. As for Anya… on February 11, 2010 during a regularly scheduled flight to obtain locations for our tigers, we discovered that Anya’s collar had switched to mortality mode. At that time her location was in the very center of the Reserve, on the Kolumbe river. In search of her own home range, Anya had migrated surprisingly far from her mother.
The Kolumbe River basin is perhaps the least accessible area of the reserve, with no trails or cabins. For this reason, on February 17th, Siberian Tiger Project specialists took a helicopter out to the place where Anya’s last location was taken, to determine what went wrong. We had all been hoping that Anya simply lost her collar. However, when our specialists reached the ground, they discovered that Anya had been killed and eaten by a bear.
It is very disappointing to lose a beautiful, healthy young tigress, who had just begun to live on her own, and could have had many litters of cubs in her lifetime. Our only consolation is that hers at least was a natural death…