Putin the hero 'saves TV crew from tiger attack' (pictures added)
A macho Vladimir Putin was lauded by Russian media
The Russian prime minister was visiting the Ussuri reserve in Siberia, observing how researchers monitor the tigers in the wild, when a trapped beast escaped and charged towards a nearby camera crew, according to Telegraph.
Mr Putin apparently quickly shot the beast and sedated it with a tranquilizer gun.
"Vladimir Putin not only managed to see the giant predator up close but also saved our television crew too," a presenter on Rossiya television said at the start of the main evening news.
Footage of the former KGB spy, who cultivated a macho image during his eight years as the Kremlin chief, showed him striding through the taiga in camouflage and desert boots before grappling with the tiger.
The scenes were reminiscent of the photographs released last year that showed the leader stripped to the waist in a series of macho hunting poses.
The Amur tiger, the world`s biggest wild cat, has recently pounced back from the brink of extinction to hit its highest population level for at least 100 years, the WWF said last year.
Putin thanked Western researchers for being involved in programmes to save the Amur tigers.
"First of all, we must thank our colleagues, Americans, European colleagues for being involved with this during a difficult time for Russia when no-one was paying any attention to this," Mr Putin said.
As president Mr Putin redrew a planned oil pipeline route to avoid Lake Baikal, the largest freshwater lake in the world, and scrapped plans for an Olympic village near Sochi that could have damaged local flora and fauna.