Could one tiger cause a breakdown in diplomatic relations between Russia and China?
Chinese media claims the feline in question is Ustin, one of five electronically-tagged Siberian tigers released by Russian authorities in May and June 2014.
The big cat has since wandered into northeastern China where, national news agency Xinhua reports, he entered a farm, killing fifteen goats over two nights and leaving another three missing.
Xinhua claims Ustin was among the first group of tigers released in May by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Russia denies this claim, suggesting that he was released in June, by Russian conservationists.
Local experts say tiger footprints were found around the goat house in Heilongjiang province’s Fuyuan County, near the border with Russia.
The farm’s owner will be compensated by the local forestry department, but has been asked to either reinforce his farm, or relocate the goats.
“I locked the shelter after herding the goats. But the tiger entered the shelter by breaking the wooden fence and killed the goats”, farmer Guo Yulin said.
Ustin is one of two tigers reported to have entered China from Russia in recent months. His brother Kuzya is thought to have raided a farm in October, eating five chickens.
The pair are currently being monitored by Chinese wildlife protection services.