Support The Moscow Times!

Nature, Not Hunger, Drove Putin's Amur Tiger to Ditch Russia for China

The Amur tiger, released into the wild by President Vladimir Putin in May, did not cross the border into China out of hunger.

A giant cat with links to President Vladimir Putin ditched Russia for China not out of hunger, but because of its restless nature, a tiger expert said Thursday.

Kuzya the tiger, released into the wild by Putin in May, swam across the mighty far-eastern Amur River and into China last weekend, data from his tracking collar shows.

Early explanations put the migration down to being spurred by the tiger's search for prey, but a regional hunting official has cast doubt upon that version.

"He ate well. We checked," Valery Pogasiyenko, who heads the Amur region's hunting department, told the Interfax news agency.

"He's a stray cat by nature," Pogasiyenko said by way of an alternative explanation of Kuzya's travels.

Though the official did not specify what a tiger's nature involves, some Russian media interpreted him as saying it was a desire for sex that drove Kuzya to wet his fur in the hope of finding a mate on the Chinese side.

Chinese officials, who said the tiger has been tracked to China's Taipinggou nature reserve, have expressed a readiness to "release cattle" in the wild to feed him if he is, indeed, lacking nutrition, state news agency Xinhua reported.

No mention was made of a potential mate for the tiger, however.

Tigers are weary of water, and Kuzya's braving of the 700-meter-wide Amur River has prompted much astonishment.

Some media have speculated the endangered feline might have been killed by poachers — a perpetual danger to Amur tigers — who simply ditched his collar into the river.

But that seems unlikely because the tracking collar will stop transmitting a signal once the tagged animal is dead, local news site Ampravda.ru said Thursday.

Kuzya was part of a five-cub litter found orphaned in the far-eastern taiga last year. The cubs were nursed to health and released into the wild with the blessing of Putin, a noted animal lover.

Amur tigers, one of the biggest predators on the planet, are an endangered tiger subspecies, with about 400 remaining in the wild, according to available estimates.

Contact the author at a.eremenko@imedia.ru

… we have a small favor to ask. As you may have heard, The Moscow Times, an independent news source for over 30 years, has been unjustly branded as a "foreign agent" by the Russian government. This blatant attempt to silence our voice is a direct assault on the integrity of journalism and the values we hold dear.

We, the journalists of The Moscow Times, refuse to be silenced. Our commitment to providing accurate and unbiased reporting on Russia remains unshaken. But we need your help to continue our critical mission.

Your support, no matter how small, makes a world of difference. If you can, please support us monthly starting from just $2. It's quick to set up, and you can be confident that you're making a significant impact every month by supporting open, independent journalism. Thank you.

Once
Monthly
Annual
Continue
paiment methods
Not ready to support today?
Remind me later.

Read more