Caspian tiger, “Panthera tigris virgata”, is a subspecies of tiger that became extinct in the mid-twentieth century. Weighing more than 136 kg the Caspian tiger falls into the category of the largest observed cats.
A new study, published in the journal “Biological Conservation” promises that soon the tiger will be seen again. That would be thanks to another subspecies of tiger whose natural habitat is in an area of eastern Russia.
International research team, funded as part of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), has an ambitious plan to capture several genetically similar species of tiger and take them in Central Asia.
The fate of the Caspian tiger was decided during the Russian colonization of the region. Today that includes parts of Russia, Mongolia, China, Kazakhstan, Iraq, Afghanistan and several other intermediate countries of Asia. Not only were the natural habitats of the tiger turned into farmland, but they were exterminated by hunting.
It is interesting that modern genetic analysis of the subspecies Siberian (Amur) tiger whose habitat is in Russia, found two subspecies that recently emerged from a common ancestor.
Siberian tiger can still be found in the wild.
And although it is classified as a rare species, can also be found in the mountainous region of “Sikhote Alin,” in the province “Primorje”, eastern Russia.
The mapping of the genome reveals that the common ancestor of the Siberian and Caspian tiger populated Central Asia, to Eastern China about 10,000 years ago, during the last glacial maximum.
Despite the slight physiological differences, it’s considered that the Caspian and Siberian tigers, are not much different at genetic level.
It is thought that the migration of Siberian subspecies in the region of the former Caspian tiger is a great way for his re-developing.
There is an already found potentially residence in Kazakhstan that could support a population of 100 tigers. It seems that this project received the green light from regional and government agencies.
The types of prey that the tiger hunts, such as deer and wild pigs, must be transferred to another habitat. And the water supply in the reservoir should be carefully regulated and protected.
This whole project is quite complex in the long-term. But it will allow us to “bring some extinct animals back to life”.