The Amur tigers at the Bronx Zoo were right at home in the snowstorm that hit New York City last week. Miss Sasha and her three cubs pounced through the snowdrifts, as you can see in the video above.
As the northernmost sub-species of tiger, Amurs (a.k.a. Siberian tigers) are well adapted to winter conditions. In the wild, around 350 Amur tigers inhabit the boreal and temperate mixed forests in the southern Russian Far East and Northeast China—a fraction of the historical population living in a fraction of its historical range.
The main threats to the cat’s survival are poaching, habitat loss, and illegal hunting of ungulates (their main prey), according to the Wildlife Conservation Society. The group has found that 20-30 of the cats are poached in the Russian Far East each year, accounting for 75-85% of all Amur tiger deaths.
WCS doesn’t just have Amur tigers on display at the zoo. To help save wild populations, the group launched the Siberian Tiger Project in 1992. They’ve radio-tracked more than 60 tigers since then, learning about their behavior and habitat needs, and they work with local communities to reduce tiger-human conflicts.
The primary conflicts are attacks on people and predation on domestic animals. Typically, tigers that attack people have been previously injured in botched poaching attempts, and then gone after the poacher or an unfortunate person who passes near the wounded animal.
Fortunately, at least some “problem” cats that prey on domestic animals near towns can be rehabilitated. “We have conducted and documented the first ever successful rehabilitations and translocations of problem tigers of any subspecies, providing a new and potentially effective tool for dealing with tiger-human conflicts throughout the world,” the projects website says.
Click here to read about the illegal exotic wildlife trade industry and the need to conserve this charismatic creature.