Tag Archives: siberian

Yorkshire’s endangered Amir tigers cubs celebrate their first birthday

A young trio of Amur tigers celebrated their first birthday at the Yorkshire Wildlife Park in style on Tuesday. Hector, Harley and Hope were filmed on their journey from adorable cubs to adorable ferocious predators and, to mark the landmark occasion, the park released an adorable video showcasing how they’ve grown.

The park posted the video on YouTube on Tuesday with the message “Happy 1st birthday to our very special (not so little anymore) tiger cubs, Harley, Hector and Hope!” And indeed from helpless newborns, totally dependent on their mother Tschuna, the trio grew into fearsome cats.

Since their birth in March of 2015, the cubs have been one of the park’s greatest hit with visitors, as “they are always up to mischief,” Yorkshire Wildlife Park’s website reads. The cubs live alongside their mother, Vladimir their father and another tiger named Sayan. And as much as it saddens me to see animals in zoos, it might be for the best.

I say this because Amur (or Siberian) tigers are a dangerously endangered species, threatened by poachers, illegal wildlife trade and habitat destruction from illegal loggers, conservation nonprofit World Wildlife Fund for Nature reports. There are only an estimated 540 of the regal beasts still living in the wild, in their native forests of the Russian Far East.

 

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How natural selection helped Siberian natives survive harsh cold

Though Siberia stretches across about 10% of the world’s land surface, it’s only occupied by 0.5% of the world’s population, which isn’t too hard to explain why. Recent temperature measurements read on average -25°C for the month of January, but it’s not unheard of to experience temperatures below -40°C. Extreme weather, temperatures and terrain, however, call for extreme humans, and who better than nature to shape the local population for survival?

siberia-womanRecently, a team of researchers at  University of Cambridge, working in close collaboration with researchers from the  Institute of Biological Problems of the North in Magadan, Russia, have performed the most extensive genetic survey in Siberia, analyzing genetic variants from ten groups that represent nearly all of the region’s native populations.

Their findings suggest specific genes helped  humans who have been living in Siberia for 25,000 years cope with the extreme cold. Three genes – UCP1ENPP7 and PRKG1, – were found to have undergone positive natural selection, based on specific techniques the scientists used to identify the genetic traits favored by evolution.

In a previous 2010 study authored by University of Chicago geneticist Anna Di Rienzo and her colleagues, only two Siberian populations were studied, still two genes were identified as being more active UCP1 and UCP3. These two gene help the body transform body fat directly into heat, without going through an intermediary step that transforms it into chemical energy first.

The other two genes ENPP7 and PRKG1 identified in the present study were also found to offer significant advantages to the Siberian natives. PRKG1 is involved in the contraction of smooth muscle, key to shivering and the constriction of blood vessels to avoid heat loss. ENPP7 is implicated in the metabolism of fats –  a great genetic trait considering the mostly fat-laden diets of the local populace comprised mostly of meat and dairy products.

Since this was an extensive study where more than 200 DNA samples from native groups spread through out Siberia, naturally some genes were expressed more in some groups than in others, which is why the University of Chicago might have missed a few in the first place. Thus selection for UCP1 was strongest in southern Siberian groups, while selection for PRKG1 was greatest in northeastern and central Siberia. ENPP7, on the other hand, showed strong selection throughout Siberia.

Evolution never sleeps and is a constant process. These latest findings serve as a reminder.

“The results are fascinating,” says Danae Dodge, a geneticist at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom, because they add to evidence that “we have continued to evolve in our modern world.”

via Science

Shorties: we only have one last chance to save the tigers

“A tiger is a large-hearted gentleman with boundless courage and when he is exterminated – as exterminated he will be unless public opinion rallies to his support – India will be the poorer by having lost the finest of her fauna”

So said Jim Corbett, a man whose fate was bound to that of the tigers, in 1944. In his day, there were way over 100.000 tigers. Now there are some 3.000 of them. Unless something significant changes fast, they WILL disappear as a wild species, and tomorrow’s generation will only see them in pictures and zoos. You really should read this brilliant post from The Guardian.

Siberian tigers face dramatic decline, drawing near extinction

The Siberian tiger is the biggest feline to walk the face of the Earth at the time, but if today’s trends continue, that will change in the not so distant future; and not because other species will grow bigger, but because the Siberian tiger can become extinct.

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Hey guys. I don’t wanna be extinct :(

There were around 300 tigers living in Eastern Russia just 4 years ago (which is a dramatically small number), but the WCS (World Wildlife Conservation Society) estimates that the population has decreased significantly due to habitat loss (logging) and poaching. WCS say they have done this estimate in order to warn Russian authorities about what has to be done in order to protect this majestic creature.

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Really, I don’t. But there’s nothing I can do.

“The sobering results are a wake-up call that current conservation efforts are not going far enough to protect Siberian tigers,” said Dr. Dale Miquelle, of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Russian Far East Program. “The good news is that we believe this trend can be reversed if immediate action is taken.”

“Working with our Russian partners we are hopeful and confident that we can save the Siberian tiger,” Dr. John G. Robinson, WCS Executive Vice President for Conservation and Science added. “The Siberian tiger is a living symbol for the people of Russia.”

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The remaining habitat of the siberian tiger half a decade ago

Siberian tigers are powerful predators that hunt alone, sometimes searching for prey for many miles. However, despite their reputation and killer traits, they avoid humans as much as they can. In the extremely rare cases when they do attack, it’s because they have nothing to eat.

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The main problem is deforestation. The Siberian tigers requires vast territories to survive, and so does it’s prey and other numerous animals from the ecosystem. However, due to (legal and illegal) logging, its habitat decreased greatly, leaving it without food and hope. However, this is not the only hurdle they face.

Poaching is another major threat. Whether it’s for the fur, for medicinal purposes (tiger organs are very valuable in Chinese “traditional” medicine), or just for a big trophy, tigers are threatened from all directions – and this just has to be controlled more strictly. Hopefully, the Russian authorities will be able (and willing) to understand what they have to do and will take the necessary measures so we won’t have to explain to our grandchildren why there are no more Siberian tigers.