Tag Archives: Year of The Tiger

Disappearing Stripes in the Year of The Tiger V

I have been writing about tigers in a series of posts titled “The Disappearing Stripes in the Year of The Tiger. The previous 4 can be found at the following links:

Part I – The Disappearing Stripes

Part II – The Amur Tiger

Part III – The Bengal Tiger

Part IVThe Sumatran Tiger

We have already come to know the Amur,Bengal and Sumatran tigers in the previous posts. Now in the final edition of the series we will learn about the last 2 endangered tiger sub-species The Indo-Chinese Tiger and the South Central Chinese Tiger.

The Indo Chinese Tiger Panthera tigris corbetti or the Indo Chinese tiger is found through out Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, malaysia and Southern China. Their numbers are believed to be around 300 in the wild according to the WWF and around 60 are captive in the zoos of US and Asia.

The Indo Chinese tiger is also commonly called the Malayan tiger. Males are much larger than females, and have more conspicuous cheek whiskers.  Males are 8’5″-9’4″ long (excluding the tail) and weigh between 370-430 pounds.  Females are 7’7″ – 8’8″ long and weigh under 300 pounds.  Black stripes on a reddish-ochre ground, with white throat, facial patches and belly.  Stripes are narrow.  Body color is a little lighter than that of the Sumatran tiger, which is the darkest of the tigers, and the striping at the front of the body is reduced.  In addition some stripes break up into a row of spots.

Most of the wild Indo Chinese tigers are in Thailand, while the other countries also have smaller populations. The Military regime in Myanmar has set aside what is the largest preserved area for tigers in the Hukaung Valley – a remote area of northern Myanmar about half the size of Switzerland – is now a protected tiger area. Due to restricted access to the border areas where the Indochinese tiger lives, relatively little is known about their population status.

Malaysia has been able to impose strict laws against poaching there by protecting the tigers which live there. Political and economic stability is one of the main aspects which could help the tiger survive. Where there is poverty the people tend to focus more on how to make a quick buck rather than what is happening to the tiger.

The South-Central China TigerOr the South China tiger Panthera tigris amoyensis is the most endangered of all 5 species and their numbers are estimated to be around a dozen in the wild at the most. No wild sighting of a South China Tiger has been made in the last 25 years. The South Central China Tiger population numbered around 4000 in the 1950’s and was officially hunted down to extinction as a pest! by 1996 the population was around 30 – 80 individuals approximately!  A few individuals may remain in the moist forests of southeast China, but the wild population is not thought to be viable. It is called by many scientists to be functionally extinct.

Source Wikipedia

The South China tiger is also considered to be a stem tiger – a species which is most closely related to the ancestors of the modern tigers.

Where is the Tiger headed?

There are numerous conservation efforts happening around the world to save the tiger. Today I read this study in The Public Library of Science – Biology journal online titled ” Bringing the Tiger Back from the Brink—The Six Percent Solution” The study has identified 42 source sites – sites which have 25 or more breeding females: there fore they can sustain or lead to a larger number tigers in years to come and sites also able to accommodate 50 breeding females.  India had 18 sites, the Indonesian island of Sumatra eight and the Russian far east six, with others in Malaysia, Thailand, Laos and Bangladesh. Their list excludes China, Cambodia, DPR Korea and Vietnam; as the data did not support any source sites there.

The cost of achieving this would be an additional $35 million a year in funding for law enforcement and monitoring, the report’s lead authors from the U.S.-based Wildlife Conservation Society say. The World Bank, global conservation organization IUCN and Panthera, a big cat environmental group, also contributed to the study.

“The tiger is facing its last stand as a species,” John Robinson, executive vice president of conservation and science for the Wildlife Conservation Society, said in a statement. Of the tigers remaining in the wild, only about 1,000 are breeding females.

Scientists and conservationists believe that tigers can make a comeback if the most critical threats to their existence, poaching of the cats themselves and their prey, are addressed effectively and immediately” Setting up preserves is only the first step, stopping poaching and poachers, Getting rid of the market for animal products, educating people about the relevance of bio-diversity for their own survival if nothing else etc may help in protecting the remaining tigers and make the doubling of tiger population in the wild by the Next year of the Tiger – 2022 a reality!

Courtesy WWF

In November this year the 13 Tiger countries worldwide will get unite in St.Petersburg for the Tiger summit of 2010 – The Year of the Tiger and the UN’s year of Bio Diversity. The aim is to put in place a frame work to make sure the tiger survives and lives without fear of extinction by 2020.

The good thing is Tigers are cats – and so breed easily. Given adequate space, prey, and protection from poaching, wild tiger populations can increase. Lets hope it works out, for the tigers and for the future generations who will call the earth their home.


Sources and Relevant Reading :

Bringing the Tiger back from The Brink – the 6% solution

Global Tiger Initiative

Save the Tiger Fund

Myanmar’s tiger preserve

WWF Tiger Initiative

The Disappearing Stripes In The Year Of The Tiger IV: Sumatran Tiger

I have been writing about tigers in a series of posts titled “The Disappearing Stripes in the Year of The Tiger. The previous 3 can be found at the following links:

Part I – The Disappearing Stripes

Part II – The Amur Tiger

Part III – The Bengal Tiger

This is the 4th part of “The Disappearing Stripes in the year of the Tiger” getting to know the Sumatran Tiger this week. The Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) is the smallest of the 5 surviving species of tigers today. They are critically endangered due to habitat destruction and poaching.

Courtesy Bricmak under Creative Commons Attribution

Picture Courtesy Brian Mckay

The Sumatran Tiger has lived exclusively, for over a million years, in the once extensive moist tropical jungles of the island of Sumatra, Indonesia. Their population in the wild is now heavily fragmented and is estimated to range between 400 and 500 individuals. Groups of between a few and several dozen tigers can be found principally in and around Sumatra’s national parks.

What makes the Sumatran Tiger even more special as it has been genetically isolated in its unique environment which is an island, away from all the other species of tigers in Asia.

Interesting facts about the Sumatran Tiger:

  • Sumatran male tigers average around 8’ in length and weigh around 265pounds.
  • The Sumatran tigers have narrower stripes which make it easier for them to move in the jungle.
  • Male Sumatran tigers have a more bearded and maned appearance.
  • Webbing between their toes, when spread, enables the Sumatran tiger to be very fast swimmer.
  • Less than 500 Sumatran tigers live in the wild in Sumatra.
  • The largest population of about 110 Sumatran tigers lives in Gunung Leuser National Park.
  • Indonesia has 65 captive Sumatran tigers living in zoos, 85 in European zoos and 20 in Australian zoos. There are 70 tigers managed by North American zoos.
  • Loss of their natural habitat often leads tigers to move into settled areas in search of food, where they then encounter problems.
  • The Sumatran has the darkest coat of all the tigers ranging from reddish-yellow through to deep orange, its broad black stripes are closely spaced and often doubled this helps them hide in the forest.
  • Their Nocturnal vision is 6times as sharp as ours!

You can do your bit by helping save tigers HERE

Help Save the Tiger, it is our responsibility.

Info on Sumatran Tigers Sources:

Honolulu Zoo

The Tiger Trust

Tiger world

The Disappearing Stripes In the Year of The Tiger II

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.


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 for  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…