Big cats that stray into human settlements often kill livestock and pose a threat to residents
A resident of a remote Russian village urged neighbors to be on guard after filming what appears to be footprints of an Amur tiger crossing a street. The endangered animals are a significant threat in the Far Eastern Khabarovsk region, where the video was taken.
The warning was circulated on Monday by local online news outlets. The footage shows a snowy rural landscape, as the woman puts her hand next to the footprints to show their size in comparison.
"That one is not small," she and another woman can be heard commenting. "Be careful, because he clearly went here not so long ago".
The tiger alert came from Sita, a village of just over 1,200 residents located in the sparsely-populated Lazo district in the southern part of the region. The district shares a border with China and is a natural habitat for the majestic predator. For residents of the area, big cats are a routine hazard.
Just last week, the local media reported on a tiger pestering Mukhen, a slightly larger village with almost 3,000 inhabitants located some 50 km to the east of Sita. The cat - or maybe two of them, as some locals believe - has reportedly snatched several guard dogs since first reaching the community sometime in October.
Officials from the local hunting control service, who have the authority and skills to deal with government-protected Amur tigers, confirmed finding footprints in the vicinity, but could not find the animal, a Khabarovsk media outlet reported last Wednesday.
Tigers may be a lethal threat on their own territory, but normally avoid human settlements, according to wildlife specialists. They do not hunt domestic dogs or livestock, unless forced by hunger.
"In all the cases of conflicts with tigers last year, when adult animals had to be extracted from villages or were found dead, they had some injuries inflicted by gunfire or snares," Sergey Aramilev, who heads a tiger rescue group, told the newspaper.
Nevertheless, villagers in Khabarovsk Region are regularly reminded about their feline neighbors. Last December, an Amur tiger strayed into the village of Bichevaya, roughly 40 km south of Sita, and had to be run off.
That cat was reportedly particularly polite, didn't hurt any local animals, and left "as soon as it read the street signs and found the right direction," locals joked at the time.