China hunts for tiger released into wild by Putin

CHINA is on the hunt for a rare Siberian tiger released into the wild by Russian president Vladimir Putin, after the animal crossed the border in search of food, state media has said.

Kuzya is a Siberian tiger similar to this one. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Kuzya is a Siberian tiger similar to this one. Picture: Ian Rutherford

The Xinhua News Agency confirmed today that Russia had informed Chinese forestry officials that the tiger, named Kuzya, is fitted with a tracking device and was seen in the Taipinggou nature reserve in China’s Heilongjiang province in the north east of the country.

Local farmers were in the process of being informed while more than 60 cameras have been set up in the hop of locating the big cat.

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Nature reserve director Chen Zhigang told Xinhua: “A Russian expert called to tell us the location of the tiger and expressed the hope that we can protect it.”

Chen added that the tiger should find plenty of food among the reserve’s wildlife, and confirmed that officials were prepared to ‘release cattle’ into the area to provide additional food.

President Putin was pictured in May releasing the 19-month-old cub along with two other Siberian tigers in a remote part of the Amur region.

He won praise in 2008 from Russian media for supposedly saving a television crew from attack when he shot a Siberian tiger with a tranquiliser gun after it had escaped from wildlife specialists at a national park.

China’s demand for tiger products - often used in medicines - has driven indigenous subspecies of the big cat in the wild to the edge of extinction.