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Sparta, the tigress, met her saver in Nordens Ark Zoo

23 march 2020
One of the remarkable event for the Russian specialists during their visit to Sweden as part of the Northern Tiger Project was meeting of Viktor Kuzmenko, head of the Rehabilitation Centre, with Sparta, the Amur tiger female, that he saved 13 years ago with WWF’s support.

In February 2007, two starving tiger cubs came to the road near a remote Primorye village where lumber men picked them up and called the Inspection Tiger. At that time there was no rehabilitation centre in Primorye so the four-months-old orphaned cubs were placed in the barn of one of the inspectors. Everyone tried to help the cubs – the villagers, unknown people from other districts, vets from the cities, conservation organizations including WWF. When the striped couple recovered and got strong Konstantsiya, one the sisters, was transported to the Russian Zoo in Penza while Sparta flew to the Nordens Ark Zooin Sweden where they became a part of the European Breeding Programme.

Feeding cage. That is where Viktor and Sparta met. Nordens Ark Zoo
(c) Pavel Fomenko / WWF Russia
Sparta in deluxe environment of Nordens Ark Zoo
(c) Pavel Fomenko / WWF Russia
“I was very glad to meet my old acquaintance. At that time she had no chances to be released back into the wild. Now she lives in the Zoo in “deluxe” conditions – in a large plot of enclosed wildness, she is in good shape, she gave birth to two litters. It is good that the efforts of so many people who tried to safe her were not in vain”, comments Viktor Kuzmenko, head of the Centre TIGR Rehabilitation Centre, one of Tiger Inspection staff 13 years ago.
One of the hides at Wildlife Safaries Finland
The inside of the hide is convinient for photographers
Every eco-tourist might want to live in this house at Urnatur
Tree-house for eco-tourists at Urnatur
(c) Pavel Fomenko / WWF Russia

It was one of the meetings scheduled for the Russian team by their Swedish colleagues as part of the Northern Tiger Project run jointly by WWF Russia, WWF Sweden and the Nordens Ark Zoo. The agenda of the study tour was diverse. They got acquainted with photo-tourism facilities in Wildlife Safaries Finland; with the way how to manage protected areas and deal with conflicts with large carnivores; with the results of Arctic fox conservation in Vindelfjallens nature reserve; routine of taking biological and genetic samples and storage techniques; the procedure of doing the autopsy in the Veterinary Institute in Uppsala; landscapes restoration after forest fires. 

Learning how the Swedish colleagues deal with conflicts with large carnivors
Storage for biological and genetic samples at Veterinary Institute, Uppsala
Wolverene prints in the snows of Vindelfjallen nature reserve
Vindelfjallen nature reserve
Ration of animals at the Nordens Ark Zoo
(c) Pavel Fomenko / WWF Russia
“Such trips are very useful. This is our third visit to Sweden where the number of rare and game species is high and optimal. Similar nature conditions in Sweden and Russia enable us to employ the field experience of our Swedish counterparts and the methods and approaches they use in nature conservation. As a results we have got remarkable achievements – over nine years in Nanaisky and Komsomolsky Districts, where the project is being run, the number of tigers has increased nearly three times reaching 50 animals, notes Pavel Fomenko, senior coordinator of rare species conservation unit at WWF Russia Amur branch. — But now we are facing yet another not easy task. We have to maintain the sustainability of this tiger grouping and to do this we need to solve social and economic tasks in partnership with governmental and non-governmental organizations”.
“Over two-week –long study tour we had the chance to see and learn from a variety of places that focus on eco-tourism, wildlife management, carnivore conservation etc. and also experience a lot of Sweden. The trip provided lots of great opportunities to exchange experiences and I hope that some of the knowledge gained from this trip will come to benefit Amur tiger conservation”, notes Emma Nygren, conservation project manager and animal welfare coordinator at Nordens Ark Zoo.
Our Swedish colleague is thing only about the trip
Sami hunter guided the study tour group, Vindelfjallen nature reserve
The Northern Tiger Project partners: Louise Carlsson and Ola Jennersten, WWF Sweden
The whole Russian-Swedish group
(c) Pavel Fomenko / WWF Russia