Vladimir Putin loves nature. Well, according to his well publicized and orchestrated photo shoots, he does. Over the years Putin has been photographed leading crane migrations, tranquilizing polar bears, tagging whales for scientific research and releasing tigers back into the wild. However now, it seems his love for conservation could sour Russian-Chinese relationships – as one of Putin’s five released tigers has crossed the Chinese border and is killing goats.
In 2012, the Russian president released five Amur tiger cubs into the wild – however one of them, reportedly called Ustin, has been sighted in North East China where it has apparently killed two goats and could be responsible for the disappearance of another three. All five of the tigers are fitted with tracking devices, and two have been found to routinely cross the Chinese border. According to Chinese wildlife experts, tiger prints have been found near goat shelters in the region around Heixiazi Island.
The Chinese news agency Xinhua reported that the skulls of the two dead goats were crushed and had puncture wounds the “size of a human finger”. Speaking to the agency, China’s Northeast Forestry University’s Zhu Shibing said: “Our monitoring data and this attack all tell that Ustin is in good physical condition, and has a large range of activities on Heixiazi Island.”
Another tiger, Kuzya, is alleged to have attacked a henhouse in north-eastern China last month. There are concerns local farmers will try and hunt the animals down to protect their livestock, but both Russian and Chinese experts are warning them to stay away to avoid injury. Russia launched a national strategy in July 2010 to protected the endangered tiger sub-species. Putin is said to be personally involved in efforts – make of that what you will.