Tiger (Panthera tigris) – The tiger is a member of the four big cats classified in the genus panthera, commonly know as “roaring cats”.
This group also contains lions, jaguars, and leopards.
The tiger is native to the mainland of southeastern Asia, and are the largest feline species in the world.
The oldest remains of a tiger-like cat have been found in China and Java, and date back 2 million years.
There are nine recognized subspecies of tiger, 3 of which have gone extinct in the last 70 years, with a fourth almost certain to become extinct in the near future.
The nine species are:
Bengal-Found in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Myanmar. The Bengal constitutes 80 % of the entire tiger population.
Indochinese- Found in Cambodia, China, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam. Smaller and darker than Bengal Tigers.
Malayan- Exclusively found in the southern part of the Malay Peninsula, was not considered a species in its own right until 2004.
Sumatran- Found only on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, the smallest of all living tiger subspecies.
Amur- Also known as the Siberian, Manchurian, or North China tiger, it is confined completely to the Amur region of far-eastern Siberia and considered the largest subspecies.
South China- With no live South China tigers seen in the wild for the last 20 years, and only 59 known captive tigers, the South China tiger will most probably become extinct in the imminent future.
Balinese (extinct)- The Balinese tiger existed only on the island of Bali, and the last tiger is thought to have been killed in 1937.
Javan (extinct)- Limited to the Indonesian island of Java, as a result of hunting and habitat destruction the last specimen was sighted in 1979.
Caspian (extinct)- Also known as the Persian tiger, it ranged through Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Russia, and Turkey. The last Caspian tiger was shot in 1970.
Male tigers average around 550 lbs, and females average around 360 lbs.
Most tigers have orange coats and stripes that vary from brown to pure black.
The pattern of stripes is unique to each animal, much like human fingerprints, and if you shaved a tiger, you would find the stripes on its skin as well!
The well-known white tiger is not a separate subspecies, but merely a genetic mutation that rarely occurs in the wild.
Most tigers live in forests or grasslands, for which their camouflage is ideally suited.
Among the big cats, only the tiger and jaguar are strong swimmers.
Tigers love to bathe in ponds, lakes and rivers, and are even know to kill while swimming.
Tigers hunt alone and eat primarily medium to large sized herbivores, such as deer, wild pigs, and water buffalo.
On occasion, they have been known to kill formidable predators like leopards, pythons, and even crocodiles!
So-called “man-eaters” are usually old or injured tigers whose hunting ability has been compromised.
Tigers kill by ambushing their prey, and delivering a bite to the back of the neck, often breaking the prey’s spinal cord, piercing the windpipe, or severing the jugular vein or carotid artery.
Tigers can reach speeds of about 37 mph, leap as high as 16 ft, and as far as 33 ft.
A significant blow from a tiger’s paw can kill a full-grown dog or human.
Tigers are critically endangered, with less than 2,000 remaining in the wild.
Due to human predation, their numbers have diminished by more than 100,000 in the last century.
Unless drastic conservation action is taken, in less than 20 years the tiger will no longer exist in the wild, and will become completely extinct shortly thereafter.