The wildlands of the Pri-Amur region of Russia, including the provinces of the Amurskaya Oblast and the Jewish Autonomous Oblast, are defined by patches of quality, upland tiger habitat surrounded the damp lowlands of the Amur River floodplain. Through the 1970s this region represented the northwestern limits of tiger distribution. But tigers had disappeared from this region and the neighboring Lesser Khingan Mountains of China for nearly forty years until the spring 2013 and 2014, when six young tigers that had been captured as cubs and rehabilitated were released into the Pri-Amur.
Release of tigers here will hopefully lead to the recovery of a viable population, dispersal into the Lesser Khingan Mountains of China and hopefully reconnection with the main Sikhote-Alin population, thereby greatly extending the range and numbers of tigers in both Russia and China. The female Zolushka was released in Bastak Reserve in May 2013, and Ilona, Borya, and Kuzya (a female and two brothers) were released just south of Zhelundinskii Wildlife Refuge in May 2014, and Svetlaya and Ustin (female and male) were released in Zhuravlinii Wildlife Refuge in June 2014. Most recently, Philipa was released in Dichun Wildlife Refuge in 2017. Kuzya and Ustin had trouble adapting to life in the wild: Ustin was eventually recaptured in late 2015 and sent to a zoo after displaying unabashed love for village dogs as prey items, which made him a threat to human safety. Kuzya disappeared without a trace in 2015, after forays into China. But both Zolushka and Svetlaya have already produced cubs representing a second generation of tigers living in this recovering tiger landscape.