By Mikhail Goncharuk
Orphaned tiger cub rescue is great deal for its own, but just imagine the value of this deal when after years of rehabilitation and release back to the wild we can see this “rescued cub” with her own cubs!… This is invaluable! …and this is the story that I want to tell you here.
It all started in the end of 2016 with rumors that a starved tiger cub was sneaking around the Lazo garbage dump near the road (Lazo is the settlement in the area where our ZSL team conducts wildlife conservation work for over 10 years). State wildlife conflicts group was sent to confirm the case and they found a lonely starved cub of 3-4 months old and no mother around (she had apparently died). As an additional unfortunate consequence, the information had been leaked to social media by local people with precise location, which made lonely weaken tiger cub to be easy target for poachers. Authorities made the immediate decision to take the animal from the wild for rehabilitation.
Locally we have the only well-developed Russian rehabilitation facilities for large predators – Interregional Non-commercial Organization (IRNCO) “Center”Tiger”, located not far from city of Ussuriisk. IRNCO, ZSL and WildCats Conservation Alliance have worked together for years and we often supported them by providing wildlife veterinary assistance. This time, Center asked us to take part in capture and immobilization of this orphaned tiger cub again.
After two days of trapping animal was captured by joint efforts of IRNCO, “Ohotnadzor” and ZSL’s vet. Physical examination did not reveal traumas or wounds and nutritional status was not critically bad which meant that animal had good chances for successful rehabilitation. Thankfully to employees of IRNCO in final stage of rehabilitation “Lazovka” (named in respect of the area where animal was revealed) demonstrated adequate behavior with good hunting skills and in 2018 tiger was released back to the wild in Jewish Autonomous region of Russian Far East.
But Lazovka’s story did not end there… IRNCO conducts routine camera traps monitoring for released tigers and recently it was registered that our tigress has a litter of cubs on her own. One cub was photographed with its mother but who knows – was it one survived cub or other nimble ones just avoid of cameras – we don’t know, but what I know for sure – rescue of one orphaned cub is not about rescuing of individual tiger – it is about rescuing of tiger’s future on our planet, and this story of “Lazovka” – lonely cub from garbage dump – is good example of it.