Scientific Name: Panthera tigris
The largest wild cat on earth, and the largest member of the Felidae (cat) family, is the tiger. Tigers are an Endangered species. In addition to having lost over 90% of their original habitat, they have been aggressively hunted and poached. The current population of tigers in the world is believed to be between 3,000 and 4,000. Tiger “farms” currently exist in Asia and Africa, where they are being bred for body parts.
Tiger subspecies include:
- Indochinese tiger (Panthera t. corbetti)
- Bengal tiger (Panthera t. tigris)
- Sumatran tiger (Panthera t. sumatrae)
- Malayan tiger (Panthera t. jacksoni)
- South China tiger (Panthera t. amoyensis)
Three subspecies are now extinct:
- Bali tiger (Panthera t. balica)
- Javan tiger (Panthera t. sondaica)
- Caspian tiger (Panthera t. virgata)
Tigers are known for their black stripes. Their fur varies in color from white to golden. A white tiger is not an albino. Their white appearance is the result of a genetic variation – a recessive gene. White tigers are either pure or part Bengal tiger, and usually bred in zoos. It is rare to see a white tiger in the wild. They do not live as long as golden-colored tigers and many have crossed eyes.
Male Siberian tigers can grow up to 12 ft. long and weigh as much as 675 lbs. Female tigers are between 6.5 to 9 feet long and weigh between 140 to 370 lbs. A tiger’s tale is 2 and 3.6 ft. in length.
Tigers could once be found throughout Asia. During the past 100 years, their numbers have plummeted from approximately 100,000 to less than 4,000. Within the past 15 to 20 years, their range has also decreased by over 40%. Many tigers live in the forest, but you can also find them in grasslands and places where there are hills and rocks. They are also excellent swimmers and like being near water. Tigers generally lead solitary lives in established territories, although they are also considered “social.”
The largest population of wild tigers is in India.
Hunting & Prey
Tigers have been seen hunting during the day and night. They prefer medium to large hoofed animals such as deer, boar and buffalo. They will also eat domestic livestock, and on occasion leopards, dogs, crocodiles and bears A tiger will also eat vegetation from time to time.
Males and females will typically mate from November to April. There are generally 2 to 3 cubs in a tiger litter, with a range of 1 to 6. Cubs will usually stay with their mother until they are 2 to 2 ½ years old. Tigers live between 20 and 26 years, both in captivity and in the wild.
The tiger has been hunted relentlessly for its skin and body parts. Most black marketers involved in the tiger parts trade are based in China. There are also “farms’ where the tigers are being bred for their parts. It is estimated that there are between 5,000 and 10,000 tigers currently living on these farms – more than the current wild tiger population.