Approach with caution: The wild Siberian tiger is photographed by Wang Jinsheng from some 400 meters away outside the Hunchun Nature Reserve in Jilin Province on October 26. Photo: xwh.cn
A surprised photographer captured rare images of a wild Siberian tiger roaming the woods of Northeast China before making a 2.5-kilometer sprint for his car on October 26.
Having a feeling he would run into "something exciting" that day, Wang Jinsheng managed to take 15 photos of the elegant and extremely endangered animal, known as an Amur or Manchurian tiger, prowling near the Hunchun Nature Reserve in Jilin Province.
"We were all dressed in camouflage and had covered our car with branches and a camouflage tarp," said Wang.
After seeing a group of four sika deer, Wang spotted the tiger approaching from 400 meters away. He explained it took him three seconds to snap the photos before he bolted for his vehicle.
"I went from excitement to very nervous within those three seconds," said Wang. "Because I saw the tiger moving quickly toward us as I shot."
Experts at the Manchurian Tiger National Reserve confirmed the photos as those of the elusive feline.
The wild Siberian tiger, largely indigenous to the Russia, Northern China and North Korea, is listed as one of the world's most endangered species. No more than 450 are believed to be alive in the wild, according to the latest statistics from the World Wildlife Federation.
The tiger has been placed under "key state protection" in China, where fewer than 50 are believed to live.
The Hunchun reserve, which sits on the edge of the Russia-China border, has provided a safe haven for the few remaining tigers and help them repopulate the area.
Recently a 55-year-old local villager Tie lijun reported a tiger encounter two meters away from his motorcycle in Hunchun's Chunhua town this September.
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Beijing Morning Post