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In Rare Conviction, Hunter Fined $18,100 for Killing Amur Tiger

Populations of the elusive Amur tiger in the Primorye region were devastated by poachers in the 1990s and early 2000s. But conservation efforts have helped halt the decline.

A Vladivostok court handed down a fine of 575,125 rubles ($18,100) and 14 months of community service Tuesday to a man who shot and killed a Amur tiger in 2010.

About 50 to 60 of the rare felines, which are listed in Russia's Red Book of endangered species, die at the hands of hunters every year, according to estimates by the World Wildlife Fund. But those responsible for the killings are rarely caught, and even more rarely successfully prosecuted.

Alexander Belyayev shot the Amur tiger on Nov. 15 while out hunting deer with friends in the Far East region of Primorye, and originally characterized the incident as one of self-defense after the beast tried to attack him, Rossiskaya Gazeta reported.

But Vladivostok's Khasansky District Court ruled that Belyayev shot the tiger from a distance and then approached the wounded animal and finished it off at close range, according to WWF experts.

This is the fourth guilty verdict of its kind since the Soviet collapse, said Sergei Aramilev, a biodiversity program coordinator for the WWF in Vladivostok. Three of the four sentences have been handed down since 2009, he said in a statement.

Unlike Bengal tigers, Amur tigers very rarely attack humans. Populations of the elusive predator in the Primorye region were devastated by poachers in the 1990s and the early 2000s. But an intense conservation effort and the personal support of President Vladimir Putin has helped to halt the decline.

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