The Disappearing Stripes In the Year of The Tiger II

August 4, 2010 in Meet an Earthling by spisharam

I am continuing from my last post in the “Meet an earthling” series catch up here In this post let us get to know the Amur tiger better.

Image Courtesy WCS website

Characteristics, Habitat and Adaptations

The Amur tiger previously called the Siberian tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) is now restricted to the Cold Boreal Forests in Eastern parts of Russia, northeastern China, northern regions of North Korea. They were called the Siberian tiger because they were found all over most of Siberia and now their range is restricted to the areas specified above which is one either side of the Amur river hence the name Amur tiger.

Amur tigers live in harsh environments, where extremely cold temperatures and deep snow are common. They are the largest amongst cats and produce more heat in the cold climates. They have thicker fur for insulation and their body is well adapted to the cold climate. They also have a layer of fat on their flanks and belly which helps protect them from the elements.

Amur tigers have a more pronounced ruff of fur around their neck and they have extra fur on their paws to protect them from the cold. Coat is golden-orange with dark stripes, with all cats markings being different and distinctive like fingerprints. They also have some patches of white on their belly, chest, throat and muzzle. Amur tigers have more white and fewer stripes than other tiger sub-species. Colors help it hide in its environment: white is like snow, black like shadows and yellow like dead oak leaves.

Conservation

According to the WWF the Amur tiger was on the verge of extinction in the 1940’s with their numbers in the wild falling to around 40! Thanks to vigorous antipoaching and other conservation efforts by the Russians with support from many partners, including WWF, the Amur tiger population recovered and has remained stable throughout the last decade or so. Now yet again thanks to illegal poaching, destruction of habitat and killing of its prey the numbers have drastically dropped in the wild.

Conservation groups are working hard to create a conservation area in the Russian far east without roads crisscrossing the region. The people who are keeping tabs say tigers seem to mostly die by human hand than anything else in the Amur region.

What is being done? Check out the links below :

Wildlife Conservation Society

Article in today’s Live Science.com about creation of the world’s largest Tiger Preserve in Myanmar

Alternatives forĀ  Chinese traditional medicines which use tiger bones

Amur Tiger at the Columbus Zoo

Interesting Facts:

  • It is estimated there are less than 400 Amur tigers in the wild.
  • A typical male Amur tiger, the largest of the tiger subspecies, may weigh more than 500 pounds and measure nearly nine feet from nose to tip of the tail. The males can be up to 11 feet long!
  • Females are smaller — up to nine feet long and about 370 pounds
  • Amur tigers depend on large antelopes etc for food.
  • Killing the prey – If it’s a small animal, they kill it with a bite to the back of the neck, breaking the spinal cord. If it’s a large animal, they kill it by suffocating it with a bite to the throat.
  • They are mostly solitary,except for mothers and their dependent young. Amur tigers generally live alone in their individual home range.
  • A male usually defends a large territory (up to 4,000 square miles!) that overlaps the ranges of multiple females.
  • They let each other know about their presence by scent markings and scratches etc on trees
  • It is the largest cat in the world.
  • Spoors (footprints) of a male are rounded and impressions of toe pads in front are blunter, females are elongated and toe pads are narrower and sharper shaped.
  • One tiger provides 13-26 pounds of powered tiger bone and in just Korea they use 3 to 4000 pounds a year.
  • Tigers are one of the four cats that roar, others are lion, leopard and jaguar.
  • Tigers are the only large wild cats with stripes.
  • The stripe patterns of a tiger are not symmetrical from one side of the animal to the other.
  • Tigers rarely climb trees — but they can!
  • For less than a dollar a day you can adopt a tiger through WWF

Watch a couple of videos about Save The tiger from the WWF

After being awed by its strength and magnificent beauty since I was a child I wonder if any one of us could really look a tiger in the eye and say

“We admired everything about you, except your very existence”

like the author of the video says… If we care about the tiger the time to act if now, support the organizations which are educating the public and trying to help put in stricter laws to stop the poaching. Educate ourselves with what we can help to protect this amazing earthling alive in its natural habitat not just in zoos… We owe it to the future generations and to the planet we call home. If we take action now i.e in 2010 the year of the Tiger, we may be able to double their numbers in the wild by 2022 the next year of the Tiger.

We have the stripes of the tiger immortalized in stories, in cartoons, in animal print clothing and what not… we all profess we love the tiger, it is time to act… I believe We owe it to the Tiger to keep it alive.

Next week we will look at the Beautiful Bengal Tiger, India’s national Animal Threatened by it’s own keepers…


Email spisharam, the author at spisharam@connect-green.com .
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