A field check of the GPS collar data in Khabarovsky Province shows that Uporny the rehabilitated Amur tiger has finally settled in the Gur River basin and is now ready for family life.
For over a year, the experts of WWF Russia, the Amur Tiger Center and the Khabarovsky Province Hunting Department have been tracking the movements of the rehabilitated tiger nicknamed Uporny – the Russian word for stubborn. This “conflict” tiger was removed from the wild in 2014 and, after being rehabilitated in the Utyos Center, was released back into wilderness in May 2015. He was released in an area adjacent to Anyuisky National Park and from here Uporny headed north-east of the Province to the Gur River basin – covering around 200 kilometers!
"According to the data obtained with the GPS collar the tiger is staying in the same area that indicates that there is enough food and the absence of other competitors." - Vasily Tolstykh, Head of the Khabarovsky Province Hunting Department
The tiger release operation was entirely managed by the federal authorities, showing the country’s strong support for tiger conservation. The authorities continue to monitor the situation with the support of non-governmental organisations. On 26th – 29th August 2016, a field expedition was organised to Uporny’s lands. Whilst checking the locations received from the satellite, evidence of a recent tiger meal was discovered. Judging by the remains, Uporny had a large female moose for lunch! This is interesting because there are a large number of wild boars and red deer in the area, which are easier to hunt. It is another indicator that the rehabilitation has been a success as it shows that Uporny is skilled and strong enough to bring down large prey.
“There is an opinion that animals released into the wild build poor social bonding with other representatives of their species. So, the possible formation of a “tiger family” might be viewed as a good sign proving the success of Uporny’s release." - Sergei Aramilev, Head of the Far Eastern branch of the Amur Tiger Center
Perhaps one of the most exciting things discovered on the expedition to Uporny’s territory was evidence of a possible tiger mating on one of the ridges where the tiger spent five days. This means that Uporny is not only hunting successfully, but he has also grown up enough to breed.
If these assumptions turn out to be true, then in around three months the tiger female will give birth to the cubs. Another three or four months after that they will start following their mother and the team will have a chance to capture photographs of the family by camera traps. According to the information collected on Uporny’s mate, she is a mature tigress who has mothered cubs in the past. The experts monitoring these tigers are holding hope for the coming months!
The information about Uporny being received by the scientific institutions, governmental and grassroots organisations is regarded as unique and important for the further work on mitigation conflicts between tigers and humans. This is the reason why the decision to remove the GPS collar was cancelled. After one year and a half, the specialists will continue receiving valuable data on Uporny’s life in Khabarovsky Province wilderness.