The whole truth about the Ussuri tiger!
No matter how bitterly aware of this, the Ussuri tigers – the largest and most graceful of the big cats of our planet – are on the verge of extinction.
The Ussuri tiger differs from its neighbors in a lighter color, and its amber-yellow coat in black stripes is decorated with a white shirt-front and the same white underbelly. In winter, tiger fur becomes longer and thicker, protecting the beast from the cold. It is not difficult to recognize the male by the collar gathered in folds around the mighty neck.
The last refuge of the Ussuri tigers were forest wilds in the basins of the Far Eastern rivers Ussuri and Amur, as well as the taiga borderland of China and North Korea. The local foothill forests are covered with deep snows for 4-5 months a year, and in winter frosts up to 40 ° C are not uncommon.
The Ussuri tiger prepares for a long wintering by feeding a thick (up to 5 cm) layer of subcutaneous fat, which saves from cold and hunger.
Diet and hunting
Spending almost all his adult life in proud solitude, the tiger patrols its hunting grounds in search of prey – sika deer, gorel or musk deer, although on occasion it will also prevent the Ussuri black bear from descending. The most delicious dish on his menu is a wild boar, a formidable beast weighing up to 340 kg, armed with sharp fangs. There are no jokes with an angry billhook, so the tiger creeps up as close as possible before taking a lethal jump and sticking its teeth into the boar’s neck. Terrible tiger fangs tear the jugular vein of the victim and crush the vertebrae, but more often it dies from suffocation, squeezed by the jaws of a predator.
Intensive deforestation in the Ussuri region killed many centuries-old oak forests and cedar forests, where wild boars have long been fed. Because of their feedlessness, their stock is steadily declining, and hungry tigers often wander in search of villages in the vicinity of villages where dogs and livestock are killed. Sometimes they were even seen on the outskirts of Vladivostok.
It is very difficult to see the Ussuri tiger in its native forest, despite its impressive size.
Once this beast made a den for itself some 100 meters from the bus stop, and for a long time no one knew about it; the shelter of this four-year-old male was found only after the dogs began to disappear in the district. Although the Ussuri tiger flaunts on the coat of arms of Vladivostok, this did not save his uninvited neighbor: the locals did not want to put up with his presence, and the authorities gave permission to shoot him.
Tigers rarely attack humans, and only when they have to protect the cubs. When in 1976 a tractor driver put his “steel horse” near the tiger’s den with two cubs, an angry mother attacked the unfortunate and killed him.
Preferring bachelor freedom, the males do not take any part in nursing the offspring, and the gentleman can be seen in the company of the female only during the mating season. After three and a half months, having prepared a den sheltered in the forest thicket, the female gives birth to 2-4 cubs. At first, the kids eat milk, but pretty soon the mother begins to feed them meat.
More sociable than a male, a tigress up to 2-3 years old keeps cubs with her, until they grow up enough to hunt on their own. As part of the family group of cubs, adolescents patrol an area of 15-20 km, and only having matured, leave the family and acquire their own territories.
Who is the enemy to whom?
Theoretically, the Ussuri tigers are strictly protected by Russian laws. In fact, these laws are shamelessly trampled upon by the local population. Poaching has become so widespread that black market prices for tiger hides and bones are regularly announced on the radio and posted on the streets. In recent years, poaching in these parts of the world has become a lucrative business, as these and other “parts” of tigers mined are highly regarded as components of popular potions of traditional Chinese medicine.
No one knows for sure how many Ussuri tigers remain in nature. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, in the mid-1990s. there were only 450-500 individuals. Probably, they, like the Bengal tigers, are waiting for complete extermination and they can be saved only by breeding in captivity.