Watch a Family of Some of the Rarest Tigers in the World Romp in a Chinese Forest

It’s only 10 seconds long, but the footage shows that endangered Amur tigers are reclaiming old habitat, conservationists say.
Feb 18, 2015·
Taylor Hill is an associate editor at TakePart covering environment and wildlife.

Thank the camera trap gods again. This time, World Wild Fund researchers hit the jackpot when one of their motion-detecting infrared cameras captured a mother Amur tiger guiding her two playful cubs through China’s northern forest.

Only about 450 Amur tigers are left in the world, and this is the first evidence of an Amur tiger family making its way back into inland China, more than 18 miles from the Russian border. WWF spokesperson Susan McCarthy said the video shows that the efforts to bring tigers back to China—part of their historical range—are working.

The Amur tiger, or Siberian tiger, predominantly inhabits the Russian Far East, with a small population along China’s border. In 2010, the WWF marked China’s Wangqing-Hunchun-Suiyang-Dongning Area as a priority zone for wild Amur tiger conservation and reintroduced tiger prey such as deer to the area.

“A shortage of prey presented a major threat to wild Amur tigers,” Shi Quanhua, senior manager of the WWF-China Asian Big Cats Program, said in a statement on Wednesday. “We worked to restore the Amur tiger’s prey populations through habitat restoration and anti-poaching efforts. Now, with the appearance of this one-of-a-kind video, it’s clear that all of the hard work to bring back wild Amur tigers is paying off.”

Today there are around 3,200 tigers worldwide. Amur tigers once roamed large swaths of northern China, the Russian Far East, and the Korean peninsula. But by the 1940s, hunting had nearly wiped out the population, with only around 40 surviving in the wild.

Russia’s decision to grant the animal full protection helped bring the species back from the brink of extinction.

“These images show that Wangqing Nature Reserve has now become a breeding site for Amur tigers,” said Wang Fuyou, division head of the Wangqing Nature Reserve conservation department. “Seeing these positive outcomes from our efforts greatly strengthens our confidence that wild Amur tiger populations can be restored.”