There were eight tiger subspecies at one time, but three became extinct during the 20th century. Over the last 100 years, hunting and forest destruction have reduced tiger populations from hundreds of thousands of animals to perhaps fewer than 2,500. Tigers are hunted as trophies, and also for body parts that are used in traditional Chinese medicine. All five remaining tiger subspecies are endangered, and many protection programs are in place.
Types of tiger that still exist :
- Bengal Tiger
- Siberian Tiger
- South China Tiger
- IndoChinese Tiger
- Malayan Tiger
- Sumatra Tiger
- Bali Tiger
Bengal tigers live in India and are sometimes called Indian tigers. They are the most common tiger and number about half of all wild tigers. Over many centuries they have become an important part of Indian tradition and lore.
Tigers live alone and aggressively scent-mark large territories to keep their rivals away. They are powerful nocturnal hunters that travel many miles to find buffalo, deer, wild pigs, and other large mammals. Tigers use their distinctive coats as camouflage (no two have exactly the same stripes). They lie in wait and creep close enough to attack their victims with a quick spring and a fatal pounce. A hungry tiger can eat as much as 60 pounds (27 kilograms) in one night, though they usually eat less.
Despite their fearsome reputation, most tigers avoid humans; however, a few do become dangerous maneaters. These animals are often sick and unable to hunt normally, or live in an area where their traditional prey has vanished.
Females give birth to litters of two to six cubs, which they raise with little or no help from the male. Cubs cannot hunt until they are 18 months old and remain with their mothers for two to three years, when they disperse to find their own territory.
White Bengal Tiger
|White bengal Tiger|
Royal, majestic and beautiful, the white Bengal tigers (Panthera Tigris) are slowly depleting in their numbers. The unusual coloration is what makes them very popular at most zoos as well. These white tigers are also known to be solitary animals. Such white tigers are mostly found on the mainland of Southeastern Asia and in the central and southern parts of India. Sadly, although there were around 8 subspecies of this kind, today, with the result of poaching, only four such species are exist. Read on to know more about these majestic creatures.
White tigers tend to be larger when they are born compared to their other subspecies. They have a certain genetic condition that eliminates the orange color in their skin, which is seen in other tigers. Apart from the absence of the orange color, some white tigers have very pale stripes, which are hardly visible. Such white tigers without the stripes are called 'snow white' tigers.
It is often rumored that white Bengal tigers do not survive in the wild. However, this does not actually hold true. Today, with the result of poaching and such other illegal activities, white tigers are bred in captivity. The body parts of the animal are most sought-after for their use in medicine and exotic cuisine. If not a part of cuisine, the white Bengal tigers are unfortunately killed, for their coats as well.
The white Bengal tiger is known to be a very patient animal whilst stalking the prey. He can wait and watch for hours to make the right move at the appropriate time. It uses its strong jaws to catch the prey by the neck and strangle it to death. As mentioned before, it is their strong sight that helps them to hunt successfully even at night. They are also known to be great swimmers; though not very good climbers.
Tigers are the largest of all wild cats and are renowned for their power and strength. There were once eight tiger subspecies, but three became extinct during the 20th century. Over the last hundred years, hunting and forest destruction have reduced overall tiger populations from hundreds of thousands to perhaps 3,000 to 5,000. Tigers are hunted as trophies and also for body parts that are used in traditional Chinese medicine. All five remaining tiger subspecies are endangered, and many protection programs are in place. Poaching is a reduced—but still very significant—threat to Siberian tigers.
Tigers live alone and aggressively scent-mark large territories to keep their rivals away. They are powerful hunters that travel many miles to find prey, such as elk and wild boar, on nocturnal hunts. Tigers use their distinctive coats as camouflage (no two have exactly the same stripes) and hunt by stealth. They lie in wait and creep close enough to attack their victims with a quick spring and a fatal pounce. A hungry tiger can eat as much as 60 pounds (27 kilograms) in one night, though they usually eat less.
Despite their fearsome reputation, most tigers avoid humans; however, a few do become dangerous maneaters. These animals are often sick and unable to hunt normally, or live in areas where their traditional prey has vanished.
Females give birth to litters of two to six cubs, which they raise with little or no help from the male. Cubs cannot hunt until they are 18 months old, and remain with their mothers for two to three years, when they disperse to find their own territory.
South China Tiger
|South China Tiger|
Range & Habitat: China is unique among tiger range countries because four of the surviving tiger subspecies at one time lived within its borders.
The Siberian tiger in the far northeast bordering Russia and North Korea; the South China tiger (which is considered the evolutionary antecedent of all tigers) in the central parts of China; and the Indochinese and Bengal tigers in the far south bordering Vietnam, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Assam (India). The tiger is a favorite subject of Chinese artists, depicted as fierce and powerful.
Conservation Status: The South China Tiger is the most Critically Endangered (IUCN) of all of the living tiger subspecies. Considered by many experts as the "Stem" tiger. The subspecies in which all other tigers may have evolved from! Wild populations are less then 30 animals. In addition to wild populations, about 50 individuals live in zoos, all located with-in China. Unfortunitly all of these animals were decentants of only six "Founder Animals". As a result, very limited genetic diversity exists for a captive breading program.
Facts about South China Tiger:
- Also known as the Amoy Tiger.
- Also known as the Chinese Tiger.
- Most endangered of the tiger subspecies.
- Considered to be the evolutionary ancestor of all tiger.
- The only zoo's that have this tiger are in China.
Bali tigers where once found on the Indonesian island of Bali. The Bali tiger was the smallest of the eight subspecies of tigers. There were eight (8) subspecies of Tigers in the world, out of which three sub species have already been declared extinct during this century - the Bali, Caspian and Javan tigers. Poaching and destruction of habitat are the primary reasons for their extinction. The remaining five species are the Siberian, Chinese, Indo-Chinese, Indian, and Sumatran tigers. The last Bali tiger to be shot was believed to be a female in 1925. The Bali tiger were extinct around the end of 1937. Fortunately, Tiger hunting was first banned in 1970, and followed subsequently by the WILDLIFE (Protection) ACT 1972. Unfortunately, this is the last known photo of the Bali tiger.
Scientific Name: Panthera tigris balica
Range: Indonesian Island of Bali
Female: 65-80 kg (143 - 176 pounds)
Male: 90-100kg (198 - 221 pounds)
Size: Tigers reach up to ten feet in length and weigh 400 to 575 pounds.
Female: 6'-3" to 6'-6"
Male: 7'-3" to 7'-7"
Diet: All tigers are carnivorous. Tiger prey consists mostly of pigs, deer, antelope, buffalo and other large mammals, although tigers have been known to hunt smaller mammals and birds.
Gestation Period: 100-110 Days (Averaging 103 Days)
Cub Maturity: 18 months - 2 Years
Cubs Per Litter: (Usually 2-3 cubs) Cubs are born blind and weigh 2-3 pounds.
Lifespan: Tigers live for 10-15 Years
Predators: Unknown, Man
Social Structure: Solitary (except during Mating Season)
Territory Size: Unknown. Today tigers occur in parts of India, Manchuria, China, Indonesia and Russia (Siberia).
Conservation Status: Extinct since the late 1930's or early 1940's
Other Information: Smallest of all 8 tiger subspecies.
Sumatran tigers are distinctive for being the only subspecies to live in isolation on a large island they have been isolated from their cousins on mainland Asia for over 10,000 years; this happened after a rise in sea level.
At the turn of the century, there were three subspecies of tiger in Indonesia - the Bali tiger (on Bali) the Javan tiger (Java) and the Sumatran. Today both the Bali and Javan tigers are EXTINCT and only the Sumatran tiger survives.
Sumatra prior to 1900 was largely covered in primary forest and the tiger was more or less found throughout the entire island. Today just 100 years later its distribution has become fragmented and substantially reduced. Although found in all the islands eight provinces in highly populated areas such as the provinces of North Sumatra and Lampung, the animal has been squeezed out. About 350 wild Sumatran tigers are believed to exist, primarily in the island's five national parks.
The historical documentation of tigers in Sumatra is sketchy. In 1978, a question-and-answer survey in Sumatra estimated the number of tigers to be about 1,000. Since then, Sumatra has undergone much agricultural development, and subsequently tiger habitat has declined. More recent surveys for Sumatran tigers by the Indonesian Department of Forest Protection and Nature Conservation (PHPA) put the number "not in the thousands but in the hundreds." In 1985, a survey of local forestry staff and people living near tiger areas estimated the distribution of tigers and tentatively identified 26 protected areas in Sumatra where tigers might live. If these habitats were completely saturated with tigers, there could be up to 800 Sumatran tigers.
The Malayan tiger is found throughout the southern and central parts of the Malay Peninsula with its range also extending into parts of southern Thailand. The Malayan tiger is found inhabiting the less-dense forests and jungles where there is a higher supply of food.
The Malayan tiger is the smallest species of tiger along with the Sumatran tiger, with average female Malayan tigers growing to around 2 meters in length. The smaller size of the Malayan tiger helps it to remain unseen in the clearer parts of the Malaysian jungle.
The Malayan tiger was once thought to be the same as the Indochinese tiger, a larger tiger species found in the more northern parts of south-east Asia, and it was only recently that the two were classified as separate subspecies.
The Malayan tiger is a dominant and carnivorous predator, hunting it's prey by stalking it until the Malayan tiger has the opportunity to catch it off guard. Malayan tigers primarily hunt larger mammals including deer, wild boar, cattle and goats.
Due to the size and power of the Malayan tiger, it has no natural predators in its native environment. Humans that hunt the Malayan tiger and habitat loss are the only threats to the Malayan tiger.
After a gestation period of 3 to 4 months, the female Malayan tiger gives birth to up to 5 cubs. Newborn Malayan tiger cubs weigh about 1 kg (2 lb) and are blind and helpless. The mother feeds them milk for about 2 months and then the Malayan tiger cubs are introduced to meat. Malayan tiger cubs depend on their mother for the first 18 months and then they start hunting on their own.
Today, due to habitat loss caused by deforestation, and hunting by human poachers, the Malayan tiger is considered to be an endangered species. Modern estimates suggest that the current wild Malayan tiger population is between 600 and 800 individuals, making it one of the more numerous tiger species.
STATUS: Endangered. Fewer than 1,500 Indochinese tigers are broadly distributed throughout Thailand (the center of the Indochinese tiger's range), Cambodia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Laos, southern China and eastern Myanmar.
"In these countries," writes Ronald Tilson of the Minnesota Zoo, "tigers live in remote forests in hilly to mountainous terrain, most of which is defined as common boundaries of neighboring countries. Access to these areas is often restricted, and biologists have only recently been granted limited permits for field surveys."
About 60 Indochinese tigers live in zoos in Asia and in the United States.
As a developed country, Malaysia seems to have achieved a workable co-existence with its tigers, according to John Seidensticker of the Save the Tiger Fund Council. The national park population seems to be doing fine.
Thailand has good chunks of forest left, adds Seidensticker, with a low density of tigers. Recent surveys taken from the border of Thailand into Myanmar suggest "empty forest syndrome," in which few tigers and other wildlife remain in a potentially rich habitat. Biologists are working with Myanmar's government to protect the country's few remaining tigers, according to the Save the Tiger Fund reports, and the government is considering the possibility of making the first serious efforts at tiger reintroduction in Myanmar's vast forested terrain.