Footprints of wild Siberian tiger spotted in China

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Beijing, July 25 (IANS) Footprints of a wild Siberian tiger have been spotted in northeast China’s Heilongjiang province, in further evidence of the species’s presence in the region, the media reported on Sunday.

Xu Jinxue, who lives in Zhenbaodao township of the province, stumbled upon the footprints when he was tending his paddy field, Xinhua news agency cited the government as saying.

“The footprints were larger than my palm and shaped like those of cats,” Xu said.

He took pictures of the prints and sent them to the local authority. The footprints were later identified by wildlife experts as belonging to the Siberian tiger.

“From the footprints we concluded that the tiger had been walking slowly and was quite heavy,” said Zhou Haixiang, with the Chinese National Committee for Man and the Biosphere Programme.

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Evidence of wild Siberian tigers roaming in the region has been confirmed this year several times by Raohe county and Dongfanghong forestry bureau, close to Hulin, meaning it is highly possible that the big cats live in the area.

The footprints also prove that there are adults and cubs among the tigers.

China has strengthened ecological protection in recent years, resulting in the gradual increase of wildlife living in areas near the China-Russia border.

Siberian tigers are one of the world’s most endangered species. They predominantly live in northeast China and eastern Russia.

Heilongjiang has reported evidence of frequent activity by wild Siberian tigers in recent years. Local authorities said the province has witnessed a rise both in the numbers of wild tigers and their prey.

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