A rare Siberian tiger cub was found shot dead at point-blank range near the Russian city of Khabarovsk. The deceased baby tiger – of which there are only 400 left in the wild – was found on the side of the road by cyclists who said that the body was still warm. The incident was not reported for several days, however, as the cyclists said they had no phones on them to report it to the relevant authorities at the time.
The cyclists quickly left the site after fearing that the cub's mother would be close by and attack them, according to the Siberian Times. The people on the scene said that they saw loggers nearby, and placed the blame on them. The cyclists recorded video evidence (below) of the killing.
Russia's Kommersant daily quotes one of the cyclists and witnesses, Yevgeny, as saying: "The cub must have been learning to hunt and jumped out onto the road. People who saw it must have been taken by surprise and fired shots. "We saw a logging Kamaz [truck] three kilometres away and think the tiger was killed by loggers because they were the only people in the area. Although, of course, it might have been killed by poachers."
The cyclists returned to the scene the day after finding the dead tiger, only to find that the cub's corpse had disappeared. The Siberian tiger, also known as the Amur tiger, is on the WWF's endangered species list. Conservationists, as well as the Russian president, have made efforts to boost the population of the species. The leader of the Eastern European country, who himself owns a Siberian tiger, has introduced new laws that increase the level of punishment for poachers who target the animal.
The cub is said to have been part of Russian President Vladimir Putin's wildlife conservation programme, which was set up in 2008.