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Sunday, April 25, 2010
Iran receives Siberian tigers
Tehran Times Science Desk
TEHRAN - Iran received two Siberian tigers from Russia on Friday and gave Russia two Persian leopards in exchange.
The Siberian tigers were delivered to Tehran’s Eram Zoo and the Persian leopards had been kept at Pardisan Park, which is also in the Iranian capital.
Iran received the Siberian tigers from Russia as part of an Iranian-Russian project to reestablish a tiger population in the country, Press TV reported.
Iran was once home to the now extinct Caspian tiger, which is also known as the Mazandaran tiger.
“In order to revive the species, two Siberian tigers were brought from Russia, including a pregnant tigress expected to give birth to a cub in two months,” Iranian Vice President for Environmental Protection Mohammad Javad Mohammadizadeh said on Friday.
Zoologists will take care of the two animals at Tehran’s Eram Zoo for about a month, and then they will be transferred to a habitat in the northern province of Mazandaran, he explained.
The tigers will remain under the close observation of Russian zoologists for five years, and Iranian specialists will take care of the Persian leopards which were sent to Russia, added Mohammadizadeh, who is also the head of Iran's Department of the Environment.
The two tigers will be released in their new habitat near the city of Miankaleh in the northern province of Mazandaran, he stated.
Mohammadizadeh explained that the northern reserve is where the last Mazandaran tigers were seen more than 40 years ago and noted that the region enjoys ecological and nutritional conditions favorable to the newcomer tigers, which will be closely monitored and looked after by a team of Iranian and Russian zoologists.
According to an agreement signed in Tehran on February 20, 2010 with Russian Minister of Natural Resources and Ecology Yury Trutneve, which had the backing of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, two Iranian leopards were to be delivered to Russia in return for the two tigers, he said.
Earlier, Russian officials had asked Iran to help revive the Persian leopard population in Russia.
The Persian leopards are to be kept near the city of Sochi.
According to The Daily Telegraph, Caucasian or Persian leopards disappeared from the Caucasus Mountains around the resort of Sochi in southern Russia in the 1920s due to excessive hunting.
The latest genetic studies have shown that the Siberian tiger, also known as the Amur tiger, is related and virtually identical to the now extinct Caspian tiger.
The discovery was made when researchers from the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI) Laboratory of Genomic Diversity in Frederick, Maryland, sequenced parts of five mitochondrial genes from tissue samples from 20 Caspian tiger specimens collected by University of Oxford researchers from museums across Eurasia.
It was found that the Caspian tiger's mitochondrial DNA is only one letter of genetic code separated from Siberian tiger DNA, while it is readily distinguishable from the DNA of other tiger subspecies, indicating that the Caspian and the Siberian subspecies are really one