Central Asia May Once Again Be Home to Tigers
Wild boar, Bukhara deer, and roe deer in Central Asia – watch out. Some of you may soon be succulent prey for Amur tigers.
The Caspian tiger was one of the largest felines to ever inhabit the earth, averaging 3 meters (10 feet) in length, with males weighing 170-240 kg (370-530 pounds and females weighing 85-135 kg (187-298 pounds).
Its habitat stretched from Turkey all the way Xinjiang in western China, a distance of close to 4,000 kilometers (2,480 miles).
Unfortunately, the Caspian tiger has been extinct since the 1960’s because of poaching and the habitat loss resulting from Soviet-sponsored agricultural projects.
It’s too late to resurrect the Caspian tiger, but scientists now have a plan to introduce the Amur tiger, a subspecies of the Siberian tiger nearly identical to the Caspian tiger, to an area in Kazakhstan that has the type of habitat the tigers love. The area could theoretically support approximately 100 tigers within 50 years.
The plan is to relocate Amur tigers from the eastern area of Siberia to Kazakhstan. The number of Amur tigers in the wild is large enough that relocating 40-50 of them will not hurt the tiger population in eastern Siberia. First, however, the population of hooved mammals in the target area needs to increase so that the tigers will have plenty of food.
Similar relocation projects of large cats have been successful in other parts of the world. And Kazakhstan is enthusiastic about the project because of the potential benefits from wildlife tourism and employment opportunities for their people.