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4 février 2015 3 04 /02 /février /2015 06:21


La dernière phase de prospection de terrain pour le recensement des tigres de l'Amour est engagé depuis le 31 janvier. Il met en lumière le comportement et même l'état d'esprit de certains individus. Dans la réserve "Land of leopard", une tigresse tue un grand cerf axis, puis s'amuse avec une vieille veste. L'animal est "full of good spirits", et totalement inoffensif pour l'Homme.

The effort to count Russia’s tigers and leopards by their snow tracks kicked off in the Primorye Territory on 31 January. Aside from measuring the size of the tiger and leopard populations, the “census” will provide plenty of data on the habits of these rare wild cats. In fact, the first day revealed lots of interesting information. For example, the tracks of a tigress in Land of the Leopard National Park told researchers that adult wild cats can sometimes frolic like cubs.

Senior researcher Dina Matyukhina and her colleagues were on a designated route near the border of a specially protected area when they spotted the tracks of an adult tigress chasing its prey. As they continued along, they came upon the remains of a fairly large male spotted deer, beside which the tigress had spent two or three days.

After eating her fill and resting, she moved on. The researchers kept following her tracks, and, to their surprise, saw evidence that she had stalked and killed another animal, despite already being full.

“Judging from the tracks in the snow, the tigress had been dragging it. Still, there was no trace of blood or fur around,” Dina Matyukhina said. “We were puzzled. What could that mean? We followed the tracks for another hundred metres or so and then noticed something black and formless on the river ice. Imagine our surprise when it turned out to be a man’s jacket!”

Someone must have left it there a long time ago. The jacket piqued her interest, but as the tracks make clear, she quickly realised that her “prey” was inanimate. She didn’t steer clear of the jacket out of caution, or rip it to shreds. Instead, she began rolling it around and pawing at it, the way house cats will play with small objects they find on the floor.

“I’ve been studying tigers for seven years but have never heard of an adult animal displaying such playfulness. This shows that she is in good health and good spirits, and also that she has something of a sense of humour. It’s worth noting that this type of behaviour signals that the animal doesn’t pose a threat to humans. The tigress is in wonderful physical shape, which follows from the fact that she killed an adult male deer so easily. A healthy, well-fed and even-tempered animal poses almost no danger to humans, except when provoked by them. If a man had been wearing the jacket, the satiated tigress would have gone another way to avoid an encounter,” Dina Matyukhina explained.

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