May 23 - Russian President Vladimir Putin helps release rare Amur tigers into the wild in eastern Siberia. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) Russian President Vladimir Putin helped release rare, orphaned Amur tigers into the wild on Thursday (May 22), the latest of several events apparently meant to portray the Russian president as an outdoorsman with a strong interest in wildlife conservation. Footage showed Putin tugging on a rope to help open a gate and let the tigers - two males and a female - lope off into the wooded taiga of the remote Amur region in eastern Siberia. The males were found as cubs in 2012, presumably orphaned when poachers killed their mothers, according to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), which helped organise what it called the largest release of rehabilitated Amur tigers ever. According to IFAW, there are some 360 tigers in the wilds of Russia, down from more than 400 at the turn of the century and that poaching, logging, wildfires and shrinkage in the population of the hoofed animals they prey upon post their main threats. The Kremlin said the tigers - dubbed Borya, Kuzia and Ilona - were now old enough to fend for themselves but would be monitored for a year, using collars with satellite tracking devices.