A wounded Siberian tiger has baffled wildlife experts by coming out of the wild to seek human help.
The tiger, named Tikhon, showed up at a remote Russian border post- on the frontier with China - over the New Year period, and refused to leave even when border guards fired warning gunshots, according to Daily Mail.
While waiting for help, the tiger killed and ate two guard dogs belonging to border guards. Despite multiple attempts to scare him away, Tikhon was still around five days later. Wildlife rangers were called in and noted the “atypical” behavior of the Siberian tiger, a species endemic to the Far East of Russia that normally shuns human contact.
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Sergey Aramilev, director of the Amur Tiger Centre, praised the border guards for not shooting the animal. He believes that the behavior of the tiger is a clear indication that after a lifetime in the wild, the animal "came to them for help.” Rangers shot a sedative into the big cat. The beast was later transported to a rehabilitation center - but experts now think that after a lifetime on the prowl, the tiger knew his time was up.
“The captured tiger is at least 15 years old, and maybe even older,” said Aramilev. “By tiger standards, he is a deep old man, especially in the wild.”
An assessment will be made of injuries or diseases and results of tests will determine the next steps, but it is highly unlikely that the beast will be able to return to the wild, given its age. The alpha male is credited with playing a major role in halting the looming extinction of the Siberian tiger. During this “active male’s” unusually long life, the highly endangered population of Siberian tigers rose from less than 350 to more than 550.
Siberian tigers are the largest of the tiger species and can grow up to 13 feet and weigh up to 700 lbs. The primary threats to the Siberian –or Amur- tiger's survival in the wild is poaching and habitat loss from intensive logging and development. They are mostly poached for their fur and body parts used in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
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