Since an established population of tigers lives in the national park, officials believe that Vladik may have opted to leave due to overcrowding. Although he has traveled safely thus far, his end destination could yield dangerous results as he’s no longer in an area that’s protected from logging and poachers.
“Vladik’s story confirms that we still do not know much about tigers,” Pavel Fomenko, rare species conservation head for World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Russia, said in a statement. “We were all very worried about his fate, but now, most likely, he has reached the place he was heading to. I really hope that he will find a home and everything will be fine.”
As adults, tigers live alone and will typically travel far distances for food or mating. Over the past century, hunting and deforestation have severely reduced Siberian tiger populations — so much that in the 1940s, they teetered on the brink of extinction with only 40 left in the wild. Thanks to full protection measures by Russia, an estimated 450 Siberian tigers live wild today.