Amur Tiger

IUCN Red List status - Endangered

The Amur tiger is the largest tiger subspecies and the largest Big Cat
(males weigh 160-190 kg and females 110-130kg). The latest estimates suggests that there are up to 500 Amur tigers in the Russian Far East and maybe up 20 individuals across the border in north-eastern China.

The home range of the Amur tiger used to stretch once across the Russian Far East, North East China, the Korean Peninsula and up into Northeast Mongolia. This range is nowadays drastically reduced and also fragmented. The Amur tiger, previously known as Siberian tiger is extinct in Siberia and it is unknown whether there are any individuals remaining in North Korea (extinct in South Korea).

Due to extensive hunting and the capture of cubs for zoos and wildlife parks at the beginning of the 20th century, the Amur tiger population was down to only 20 - 30 individuals at the first range-wide tiger survey towards the end of the 1930s (by Kaplanov). Through the introduction of the hunting ban and the ban of capturing wild tigers, the Amur tiger recovered slowly and numbers came back up to today's level. The low population of Amur tigers at the beginning of the 20th century had however left its mark as there is a reduced genetic diversity in today's wild Amur tiger population. A relatively cub survival rate may be a result of this.

Amur tigers mature at the age of 3-4 years (females mature slightly earlier than males) and may mate at any time of the year. The gestation period is 3-3.5 months and the litter size varies between 1 and 5 cubs. Only 50% of cubs make it through their first year. Infections, diseases, starvation or predation may kill the vulnerable young cats during this time in particular.

At the age of 3 months will wean off and the tigress will start to take them to kills. In particular male cubs will gain independence at the age between 16 and 22 months and will seek their own territory at this stage.

The Amur tiger habitat is a mixture of deciduous broadleaf and coniferous-deciduous broadleaf forests. The size of their individual home ranges depend generally on prey availability and vary accordingly; up to 1,385km2 for males and 250-450km2 for females. Male tiger territory will overlap with the ones of several females, but female territories will only overlap when a tigress may share this with her daughters (depending on prey availability).

The general understanding is that Amur tigers live between 10 and 15 years in the wild. The oldest one ever recorded in the wild was 14 years old
(she was tracked as part of the Siberian Tiger Project and unfortunately being shot by poachers at that age). In captivity tigers may grow older than this and can reach an age of 20 years; sometimes even older.

Like all tiger subspecies the Amur tiger has an orange coat with stripes. This coat is however lighter in colour compared to other tiger subspecies, especially in winter time. This tiger subspecies has a white chest and belly, but the overall coat will never be completely white.

White tigers are not a different species, but have a recessive gene that will cause the coat to be white (lacking dark pigments). This genetic defect has only been observed in Bengal tigers (none of the other tiger subspecies.

The information about Amur tigers was sourced from the IUCN, ALTA and Wildlife Conservation Society web pages