A young Amur tiger has been shot dead in the Khabarovsk region of the Russian Far East, local media outlets are reporting.

The body of the cub, with bullet wounds clearly visible, was discovered by cyclists on the side of a logging road, reports Russian daily newspaper Kommesant. It also appears that the group managed to film the scene and an (unverified) clip of the sighting has since appeared on YouTube. 

(Warning: The following video contains graphic content.)

At this stage, the exact circumstances surrounding the tiger's death are unclear, but there is some speculation that the cub may have been shot by loggers who are known to be operating in the area. 

"The cub must have been learning to hunt and jumped out onto the road. People who saw it must have been taken by surprise and fired shots," one of the cyclists told Kommersant. Police and wildlife experts are said to have visited the scene to verify the incident and are investigating further. 

Reports say the discovery was made on July 29, the date on which International Tiger Day is celebrated worldwide to raise awareness for the conservation of these big cats. 

Amur tigers are listed as Endangered by the IUCN and are found almost exclusively in the forests of the Russian Far East. Driven close to extinction by hunting by the 1940s, their populations have recovered in recent decades thanks to Russian efforts to improve conservation and anti-poaching measures. Still, only around 500 are estimated to survive in the wild today. Poaching and habitat loss remain serious threats.

The rare tigers have also benefited from Vladimir Putin's personal investment in their rehabilitation. The Russian president has supported conservation projects, and tougher legal penalties have been introduced in recent years to crack down on poaching. Back in the 1980s, Russia became the first country in the world to grant the Amur tiger full protection.

Watch this space for updates on this story.

Top header image: graham_alton, Flickr