Animal rescuers have been devastated to learn a giant tiger they released back in to the wild a year ago has been butchered by poachers.
Male big cat Pavlik – an Amur tiger, which is one of the largest and most endangered tiger in the world – had been rescued as a cub and reared to survive in the wild.
But the animal – also known as a Siberian tiger – was shot dead by poachers in eastern Russia near the Chinese border.
It has been reported the big cat’s head and paws were cut off – likely to trade as parts for Chinese medicine or ask an aphrodisiac.
Pavlov was only one of around 300 male riders left alive in their natural habitat in eastern Russia.
His death was discovered when the GPS signal from his collar cut out.
Governor of Amur region Vasily Orlov said: “Monsters killed Amur tiger Pavlik who was released into the wild one year ago.
“What an awful case.
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“I will seek the most severe punishment for those responsible. They won't get away with it.”
Police are now hunting the poachers – who could be jailed for as long as four years if found guilty.
Pavliv and his sister, Elena, were only released into the wild in May last year after originally being rescued in February 2018.
The cubs and their mother were traced after they began hunting pet dogs in a village called Aleksey-Nikolskoye.
Scientists who were tracking Pavlik after his release were impressed to see him traversing large areas including crossing in to China and swimming across the Amur River and the Bureya Reservoir.
Hypothesising about his death, Shanghai based expert on traditional Chinese medicine, Zhang Li, said: “The idea that tiger parts, including meat, bones, teeth, paws and eyes have magical aphrodisiac functions might be purely based on the tiger's powerful image in traditional Chinese society.”
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