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Saturday, Oct 11, 2014

World

Chinese nature reserve on lookout for tiger released in Russia

China Daily/ANN | undefined | Saturday, Oct 11, 2014

Kuzya, one of three wandering Siberian tigers freed in Russia, has reached the Taipinggou Nature Reserve in Luobei county in Northeast China's Heilongjiang province, according to GPS satellite data reported by a Russian researcher.

Three tigers were released into the wild by Russian President Vladimir Putin this May when he visited an animal care centre in Russia's eastern Amur region.

Kuzya-along with the two other tigers, Ilona and Borya-had been fitted with a GPS collar so researchers could track their movements.

Recently, Kuzya's tracking device indicated he had crossed the border into China, possibly in search of food, according to Russian media.

"On Wednesday, a Russian expert named Eugene Simonov told us the location of the tiger and expressed the hope that we can protect it," said Chen Zhigang, director of the nature reserve.

"A team of forestry officials is working to locate the tiger. We have set up 60 infrared cameras across the nature reserve in hope of capturing its image or any tracks that may exist," Chen said.

"In addition, a team of forestry police officers was dispatched to notify the local farmers about the tiger's presence and tell them to guarantee the safety of themselves and their livestock."

Another team was sent to clear the traps used to catch other animals to ensure the tiger's safety, Chen added.

Taipinggou Nature Reserve, covering an area of 20,000 hectares, is a provincial-level reserve that will soon be upgraded to a national-level nature reserve.

"It will not be difficult for Kuzya to get food in the region, but if necessary, we will release some cattle to feed it," said Chen.

The Siberian tiger was classified as one of the world's 10 species most at risk in 2008. Fewer than 500 now remain in the wild. They are usually found in eastern Russia, Northeast China and the northern parts of the Korean Peninsula.

"Russia and China have been working on the protection of Siberian tigers for decades. Cooperation has spread among the scientists and even among the leaders of the two countries," said Jiang Guangshun, deputy head of the Feline Research Center of the State Forestry Administration.

In November 2010, then-premier Wen Jiabao and then-Russian prime minister Putin agreed on the goal of trying to double the world's wild tiger population by 2022 to save it from extinction.

"Russia has rich experience in the protection of Siberian tigers, and we have learned a lot from it. China has also made great efforts. By completely stopping commercial logging in the Greater and Lesser Hinggan Mountains, the natural environment in this region is greatly improved," Jiang said.

Sightings of Siberian tigers in the region have also increased, Jiang said.

Simonov, the Russian researcher of the Rivers Without Boundaries Coalition, a multinational NGO, said: "I hope Kuzya is safe now. I think it would be a good idea to set up a Siberian tiger nature reserve in Taipinggou Nature Reserve."

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