Endangered Siberian tigers have been filmed by a BBC documentary crew. The team travelled to the Russian Far East to record the efforts of scientists working to preserve the subspecies, also known as Amur tigers.
Estimates suggest there are only around 350 of the big cats remaining in the wild and 90% of them live around the Sikhote Alin mountain region, west of the Sea of Japan and east of the River Amur.
Dr Dale Miquelle, head of the Wildlife Conservation Society in Russia, and a team of fellow specialists track the animals using radio collars as well as traditional bushcraft methods such as “pugmarks” in the snow (pictured) and scent-marking on trees.
The Siberian Tiger Project is primarily concerned with monitoring and maintaining the health of the tigers. This includes releasing rehabilitated animals, such as Zoluschka pictured, back into the wild with the hope of boosting the population.
This cub was rescued after it was found attacking a dog in a nearby town. Videos from the reserve showed the cub had two siblings and researchers launched an operation to find them.
The experts reasoned that the starving cubs had lost their mother to poaching. “Between February 2012 and February 2013 we were able to document 33 tigers that were killed or removed from the wild in Russia either directly or indirectly due to poaching,” says Dr Miquelle.
Siberian tigers are the largest of the big cats and can reach over 3 metres long, from nose to tail. They have adapted to life in frozen landscapes, thousands of miles away from their cousins in India, China and Indonesia.
Conservationists hope that studies into cub mortality and dispersal will provide essential data to help protect the next generation of the endangered tigers. Operation Snow Tiger broadcasts on BBC Two on Sunday 9 June at 2000 BST.
This article was written and published by BBC Nature Features.