Every tiger counts!

By 27th July 2021August 31st, 2021Blog, ZSL Russia

In this blog we hear from ZSL Project Veterinarian working in the Russian Far East and learn why, with only 500 wild Amur tigers left in the wild, the life of every individual is precious.

Conservation of endangered species generally requires a comprehensive approach to macro issues. However, for solitary, endangered species, such as the Amur tiger, saving an individual is just as important as large-scale conservation. This is what the Amur Tiger Rehabilitation Center (ATRC) in the Russian Far East has been doing for many years supported by the WildCats. As an anaesthesiologist at the rehabilitation center, I have the honour of helping wild cats back to the wild. We make sure every tiger counts!

Image 1 – Preparation for intubation / Image 2 – Surgeons operating. © Ksyusha Goncharuk.

Tiger cub Rescue

At the end of 2020 a young tiger was found abandoned in our region suffering significant injuries from a larger predator. Specialists from the state wildlife supervision service (“Okhtnadzor”) rescued the cub and delivered him to the rehabilitation center. He immediately received first aid before undergoing a thorough examination under anaesthesia using equipment purchased through WildCats.

Preliminary assessments

Initial assessments revealed the tiger cub was suffering from a fracture to the right humerus bone, radius and ulna. ATRC has encountered similar cases before but has not been able to successfully rehabilitate these animals for release back into the wild. Treatment of this tiger cub was therefore regarded as an ambitious step, but we hoped for a successful outcome.

Surgery and recovery

After several lengthy surgeries with experienced surgeons, titanium elements were successfully installed in the tiger cub’s leg bones. The cub has now completely healed from his operation and is already successfully able to hunt small prey on his own. We are hopeful that once he reaches the right age, he will return to his home in the wild.

Every tiger counts

For rare solitary animals capable of occupying vast territories, saving the life of even one individual plays a huge role in the conservation and restoration of the entire wild population. In the Russian Federation there are many territories where Amur tigers lived historically but have since disappeared. For more than 10 years, animals that have entered the rehabilitation center have been successfully released to these “empty” territories. WildCats have always played a special role in this process, providing financial support for for the rehabilitation center.

Mikhail Goncharuk

ZSL Project Veterinarian

X-ray comparison between the damaged limb and titan constructions on the limb after surgery. © The Amur Tiger Rehabilitation Center.

Find out more about our conservation projects in Russia here.