Tigers - Panthera tigris

Tigers are generally considered to be the largest Big Cat species of them all, though this is only partly true. Some of the tiger subspecies are actually smaller than lions.

Tigers occur nowadays solely in some parts of Asia
(across 13 different countries). This Big Cat species has roamed the planet for more than 2 million years and had still 100,000 individuals across Asia and parts of Europe just over 100 years ago. Today's tiger population is however estimated to be only between 3,800 and 5,180.

Although we have seen an increase in the tiger population over recent years
(only up to 3,200 tigers in 2010 - year when the tiger summit was held), threats persist and habitat loss is occurring on an increasing level. It is said that only 7% of the original tiger territory remains, and according to the IUCN the tigers have lost more than 50% of their home range in only 21 (recent) years.

During the last century we lost 3 tiger subspecies, which were officially declared extinct in 2003, but have not been recorded for some time before this official declaration:
  • Bali tiger - last verified sighting in the late 1930s, extinct probably by the end of world war II - extinct also in captivity)
  • Caspian tiger - the only tiger subspecies, which had a home range in parts of Europe; last recording in the wild go back to the early 1970s - extinct also in captivity)
  • Javan tiger - the last recording came from Meru Betiri National Park in 1976; this tiger subspecies may have been gone from other parts of Java as long ago as the 1940s - extinct also in captivity)

The threats for all remaining tiger subspecies continue and in spite of an increased focus on conservation of this majestic cat species more subspecies may become extinct in the foreseeable future. The IUCN specified all 6 remaining tiger subspecies as either Endangered or even Critically Endangered.

The threats for wild tigers are:
  • Poaching for fur and body parts,
  • Loss and defragmentation of the tiger habitat,
  • Depletion of prey,
  • An increasing human/wildlife conflict (resulting from habitat loss and lack of prey),
  • Health issues like lacking genetic diversity and diseases like canine distemper

The 6 tiger subspecies, which are still roaming their natural habitat are:

Amur Tiger (previously Siberian Tiger) - Endangered

Bengal Tiger (also called Indian Tiger) - Endangered

Sumatran Tiger - Critically Endangered

Malayan Tiger - Critically Endangered

Indochinese Tiger (also called Corbett Tiger) - Endangered

South China Tiger (previously Amoy Tiger) - Critically Endangered

The information about tigers and the different tiger subspecies was sourced from the IUCN and 21st Century Tiger web pages