Search For Missing Tiger In Far Eastern Taiga

Environmentalists are searching for a female tiger called Troya, which was released from a wildlife rehabilitation centre. The tiger disappeared without trace in the Far Eastern taiga. Three months ago, Russian and American experts launched a unique experiment in Russia's Far East. Two young female tigers, Troya and Pakhomovna, were released from the Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre Utes, at the foothills of the Sikhote-Alin Range in the Khabarovsk Region, following a lengthy treatment. Special radio-collars, which transfer information via a satellite to a radio centre, were attached to the two animals. However, soon the radio centre stopped receiving signals from Troya's collar. The ecologists organised helicopter rides over the taiga and hunting experts and rangers combed the area, from where the last signals were received, but no trace of the tiger has been found. Board Chairman of the Regional Wildlife Foundation and Doctor of Biology Alexander Kulikov told RIA Novosti that "most probably, Troya has become yet another victim of poachers." "Even if the tiger died in a fight with another stronger animal, e.g. a female brown bear, the collar would have shown where she died," Mr. Kulikov said. He stressed, "poachers possess technical means that might be superior to those of ecologists and hunting experts; they can intercept radio signals, calculate where an animal is going, and set up an ambush." The value of the fur, bones, and internal organs of a tiger is extortionately high on the black market. It is extremely hard to find the poachers. However, even when they are caught, they only end up paying fines and receiving a suspended sentence," Mr. Kulikov said. Chinese law provides strict penalties - up to death -- for the intentional killing of a tiger. "We do not even talk about such penalties here," the scientist stressed, "but we should, as it would than prevent people from killing and selling an animal who is listed in the World Endangered Species List." Mr. Kulikov also mentioned that five years ago 65 to 70 Amur tigers inhabited the forests of the Khabarovsk Region. Today there are less than 60.

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