'Putin tiger' may spend winter in China

Updated: 2014-10-18 18:31


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HARBIN - A tiger that allegedly roamed into China after being set free by Russian President Vladimir Putin may spend the winter in China, according to the latest investigation.

The big cat "Kuzya," tagged with a tracking device, is moving southward, further away from Russia, said Eugene Simonov, coordinator with Rivers without Boundaries Coalition, a multinational non-governmental organization on Saturday.

"We have to prepare ourselves that Kuzya will spend winter in China. The Russian experts have called for local Chinese not to feed the tiger with any poultry, which is vital to keep its wild survival ability," said Simonov, the Russian coordinator of the joint program to find the beast.

Kuzya was one of three Siberian tigers released by Putin in May.

Jiang Guangshu, the executive deputy chief of the felid research center under the state forestry administration, said the Russian side had updated the new findings with the center.

"The tiger received special training before being released. It has been kept away from human beings. The food it needs, such as wild boars and rabbits, can all be found in the area where it is staying," said Jiang.

Hair, feces and tracks possibly left by the tiger were discovered in areas where the animal is suspected to have travelled in the vast forest area of the Lesser Hinggan Mountain in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang.

Siberian tiger experts have arrived in the area to facilitate tracking, locating and protecting the tiger, he said.

Fewer than 500 Siberian tigers remain in the wild, mainly in eastern Russia, northeast China and northern parts of the Korean Peninsula. China puts its own number of wild Siberian tigers between 18 and 22, mostly living in the border areas.