CLCrow Photography Blog

Capturing Life At Its Best

The Majestic Tiger

Tigers (Panthera tigris) is the largest and probably most dangerous of big cats.    Native to much of eastern and southern Asia. They are also the most recognizable due to their dark, vertical stripes. Form and density of the stripes differ between subspecies.  Pattern of their stripes are unique to each animal, much like fingerprints in humans.  The stripes are not just on the fur, the stripes patterns are imbedded in the skin. Bengal tiger have the most numbers but it is the Siberian Tiger which is the largest member of the tiger family.

There are 9 species of modern tiger, three of those are extinct.  The remaining six species are endangered, some critically.  They are all under formal protection but poaching, habitat destruction and inbreeding has really reduced the wild tiger population to about 3200.

SUBSPECIES:

Bengal (Panthera tigris tigris) – the most common species of tiger.  Found in India and Bangledesh.  There are an estimated 1,411 wild tigers, drop of 60% in the past decade.  Project Tiger is a wildlife conservation movement initiated in India in 1972 to protect the Bengal Tigers.

Indochinese (Panthera tigris corbetti) – Found om Cambodia, China, Laos, Burma, Thailand and Vietnam.   There are approximately 1,200-1,800 Indochinese tigers left but only about 100 left in the wild.  In Vietnam, almost 3/4 of the tigers killed provide stock for chinese pharmaceuticals.

Malayan (Panthera tigris jacksoni) – Found in the southern part of Malay Peninsula.  Population of about 600-800 tigers in the wild.  Smallest of the mainland tiger subspecies.

Sumatran (Panthera tigris sumatrae) – Found on Indonesian Island of Sumatra.  Critically endangered.  Population about 400-500.  The smallest of all living species.  Mainly located on the islands national parks.

Siberian (Panthera tigris altaica) – Also known as Amur, Manchurian, Altaic, Korean or North China Tiger. Located in far eastern Siberia.  Considered the largest of all tiger species.  At 6 months old, a Siberian tiger cub can be as big as a leopard.  Population about 450-500.  It has the largest undivided tiger population in the wild.

South China (Panthera tigris amoyensis) – The most critically endangered species. One of the 10 most endangered animals in the world.  One of the smallest species.  Currently only 59 known captive, no tiger has been seen in the wild since 1983.

EXTINCT

Bali (Panthera tigris balica) – Found on the island of Bali. Smallest of all tigers.  Last one killed in 1937. None was ever in captivity.

Javan (Panthera tigris sondaica) – Found on the island of Java.  Last sighted in 1979.

Caspian (Panthera tigris virgata) – Found in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkey, Mongolia, Kazakhstan and Caucasus.  Has been extinct since the late 1950s, though there has been some more recent alleged sightings. Genetic research the animal was identical to the Siberian.

Tigers need an enormous territory, sufficient cover, proximity to water and an abundance of prey to survive.  Unlike domestic cats and many large cats, tigers are very strong swimmers and seek out water.  Tigers are essentially solitary and territorial.

Reproduction – Mating can occur all year but most common between November and April.  Gestation period is 16 weeks.  The litter usually consists of 3-4 cubs about 2 lbs each.  Cubs are born blind and helpless.  Mortality rate is high, only about half survive.  There is one dominant cub in each litter.  Cubs are independent at 18 months but don’t leave their mothers until about 2.5 years old.

Tigers can live 10-15 years in the wild and can live longer than 20 years in captivity.

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May 21, 2010 - Posted by | Wildlife | , , ,

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