Did you know that Tigers are an endangered species?

In retrospect, tigers are one of the largest animals that belong to the cat family. Compared to Leopards and Lions, the Tiger has the most diverse size and kind among big cats.

Although adult tigers are apex predators and have very few predators, they are considered an endangered species.

Tigers have existed for about 2 million years, and there are currently around 4,000 in the wild and nearly 10,000 in captivity. 

Here we are going to discuss some of the endangered species of tigers.

Endangered Tiger Species

1. Siberian Tiger

Siberian tiger in the snow
Siberian tiger in the snow | Image Credit – BBC Earth

Siberian Tigers, also known as Amur tigers, are the largest tiger subspecies, sometimes known as Manchurian, Ussurian, or Northeast China. 

Males can reach a length of 10.5 feet (3.3 meters) and a weight of 660 pounds (300 kilograms).

Females are shorter, measuring just 8.5 feet (2.6 meters) in length and weighing between 200 and 370 pounds (100 to 167 kilograms).

The fur of Amur tigers is softer orange than that of other tiger species, and the stripes are brown rather than black. Their chests and bellies are white, and they have a white fur ruff around their necks.

Wild Amur tigers are found in two central populations in the Russian Far East, according to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Save the Tiger Fund. 

A primary population of about 450 individuals covers 60,000 square miles (156,000 sq km) in Primorsky and Khabarovsk Krai, and a slim population of about 35 individuals occurs on the Russia-China border and into northeast China.

Like many other threatened animals, Amur tigers are bred in zoos worldwide to increase their numbers and maintain healthy genetic stocks.

The Pittsburgh Zoo just welcomed three Amur tiger triplets born in September. The Bronx Zoo of the Wildlife Conservation Society also has a pair of Amur tiger cubs.

2.  The South China Tiger

The South China Tiger
The South China Tiger | Image Credit – Animal Spot

The Amoy Tiger, Chinese Tiger, and Xiamen Tiger are all names for the South China Tiger. Panthera Tigris Amoyensis, on the other hand, is its scientific name. 

Many people believe that this subspecies of Tiger is the original species from which all other subspecies descended.

Their stripes are broader and bolder than the other Tigers spaced further apart.

Unfortunately, this lovely subspecies is on the verge of extinction. Some experts predict it will only be a few more years before it is entirely extinct, as only about 20 of these species survive in the wild!

3. Indian/ Bengal Tiger

The most abundant tiger species Bengal tiger
The most abundant tiger species Bengal tiger | Image Credit – Review

The Bengal tiger, the most abundant tiger species, can be found in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Bhutan. 

According to the Save the Tigers Fund, India has the most significant population, between 2,500 and 3,750 people.

While most Bengal tigers have the orange coloration associated with their species, some have a recessive gene for coloration that causes them to be cream or white in hue instead of orange. In the wild, these “white” tigers are extremely rare.

Wild tigers can be found in various habitats, including dry and wet deciduous woods, grassland and temperate forests, and mangrove forests.

Even though more individuals are left in the wild than its brethren, the IUCN Red List classifies this subspecies as Endangered.

4. Balinese Tiger

Smallest of All Tigers | Image Credit – Extinction – Tales Of Forgotten

Balinese tigers used to roam the small Indonesian island of Bali as they were endemic to the area. Sometimes known as Bali tigers, these cats were the tiniest of nine tiger subspecies. 

Some scientists believe that Bali tigers are a subspecies of the Javan tigers. Males might weigh up to 220 pounds, while females could weigh as little as 180 pounds. 

The size of these animals was around half that of Siberian tigers (the largest subspecies). 

Their fur was short and orange in hue, darker than the modern tiger subspecies. Bali tigers also had fewer stripes than usual, with black dots interspersed among them.

Bali is a small island that couldn’t support a large tiger population; hence Bali tigers had a limited population.

Human habitation and the demand for agricultural land also contributed to their limited population size. 

As the human population grew, so did towns and large-scale logging activities, resulting in deforestation and the loss of critical tiger habitat.

Reduced habitat for Bali tigers meant less area, less prey, and fewer places to hide from humans, while hunting contributed to the population’s decline. 

These tigers were imprisoned on an island with only a little habitat left and no running place.

On September 27, 1937, the last known Bali tiger, an adult female, was slain in SumberKima, West Bali. 

However, sightings of these subspecies continued for many years afterward, up until the 1940s, although they were never confirmed. 

Bali tigers were the first tiger subspecies to become extinct, and they were never kept in captivity or presented in a public zoo. 

Furthermore, they were never captured alive on film or in a motion picture. Skulls, skins, and bones, for example, are still kept in museums today. To this day, Bali tigers have an essential role in the Balinese Hindu religion.

5. Javan Tigers

Javan Tigers
Javan Tigers | Image Credit – Wow shack

Javan tigers from Indonesia’s Javan Island are the third extinct tiger subspecies. Although their closest cousins are Bengal tigers, they resemble Sumatran tigers in appearance.

Male Javan tigers might weigh up to 310 pounds, while females could reach 250 pounds. 

Their stripes were longer and thinner than Sumatran tigers’, and they had more of them. 

They also have the longest whiskers of any other subspecies, as well as a large and narrow nose. 

The smaller size of Javan tigers is thought to be owing to Bergmann’s rule, which asserts that smaller populations of the same species live in warmer temperatures. In contrast, more significant numbers live in colder climes. 

Between the 1950s and the 1980s, Javan tigers were thought to have been extinct. Along with being hunted, habitat deterioration is one of the critical factors for their extinction. 

Furthermore, their main prey base (rusa deer) was decimated by illness. In the 1940s, nature reserves were constructed for these tigers, but they could not improve the population. 

Javan tigers were housed in Indonesian zoos during World War II, but these zoos were closed down. Sumatran tigers became simpler to come by than Javan tigers after that.

The exact date of the disappearance of Javan tigers is unknown, but it is believed that they were last seen in the 1970s. In 1979, there was a reported sighting near MountBetiri.

The latest positive Javan tiger sighting was in 1976 in Java’s Meru Betiri National Park. Other sightings were suggested after that, but there was no verification.

6. Caspian Tigers

Caspian tiger | Image Credit – Parody Fandom

Caspian tigers, also known as Hyrcanian or Turan tigers, once roamed the sparse woodlands to the south and west of the Caspian Sea. Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Russia, and Turkey were all home to these tigers. 

Although larger than Bali tigers, Caspian tigers were not as enormous as Siberian tigers, weighing up to 530 pounds for males and 300 pounds for females. 

Compared to Siberian and Bengal tigers, these subspecies’ stripes were narrower, fuller/more extended, and closer together. 

Their stripes were also brown or cinnamon in hue, with pure black appearing only on the middle of their backs, tail tips, heads, and necks. Caspian tigers are the closest extant relatives of Siberian/Amur tigers.

For this subspecies, there is no specific date of extinction. Caspian tigers were hunted by military personnel and athletes, which contributed to their extermination. 

Caspian tigers have also lost habitat and prey due to these factors. Pigs, a significant food source for the tigers, died due to the disease.

The last Caspian tiger was shot in Iran’s Golestan National Park in 1959. It is thought that Caspian tigers went extinct in the late 1960s or 1970 when the last one was shot in Turkey. 

Caspian tigers, like Bali tigers, have never been kept in captivity. Because an exact moment of extinction cannot be determined, Caspian is mentioned. 

Did you know that there are also more reasons why these tigers have become extinct? 

Why are they Endangered?

1. Habitat Loss

Habitat loss | Image Credit – The Guardian

Tigers require a lot of space. They’re solitary creatures who travel hundreds of kilometers each day in quest of nourishment.

Deforestation and development pose various hazards to the environments that can support these large, highly migratory cats. 

Although a study published earlier has found that there is likely enough habitat left to keep twice the number of wild tigers that exist today (still a 94 percent reduction from historical levels), this contradicts data published by the IUCN last year, which found that tigers have lost 40% of their current habitat in the previous ten years.

There aren’t many large swaths of protected land left in the habitat. It’s primarily made up of tiny “islands” of solitary woodland bordered by highways, farms, towns, and other human settlements.

This reason not only limits and isolates tiger populations, which are often relatively small—some include only a few dozen cats—but it also puts them at risk. 

“There may be a lot of unoccupied tiger habitat,” says J.A. Mills, author of Blood of the Tiger, “but if it’s split into parts surrounded by hazards.” “Safe refuge is rarely, if ever, found.”

We’ve seen some improvement in this area—India is establishing new reserves in the hopes of attracting tigers as young animals spread from existing populations—but the overall picture remains bleak when you consider continuous habitat destruction throughout Southeast Asia.

2. Consumer Demand

Tigers are a big deal. The selling of tiger skins, bones, claws, whiskers, and other body parts brings in millions of dollars each year, funding both wild animal poaching and China’s vast commercial tiger breeding industry. 

Up to 5,000 tigers live on Chinese farms, and their bodies are frequently fermented in vats before being transformed into pricey tiger-bone wine.

This sector, which is actively attempting to increase its market in a country with a population of 1.3 billion people, is set to flourish now that China’s proposed new wildlife law supports commercial use more than it did previously. 

Meanwhile, it endangers wild tigers since traditional Asian medicine holds that fantastic animal products are more valuable than those produced in confinement.

3. Genetics

With dispersed populations and dwindling numbers, we must be concerned about tigers’ genetic health. 

In Russia, wild Amur tigers, all descended from just 50 animals, face a potential genetic bottleneck, which could lead to deformities and anomalies in the future, back in 2009. 

That doesn’t appear to have occurred yet, but we’ve seen a similar problem in Florida panthers, so it’s safe to assume it will work in specific tiger populations as well.

Conclusion

You’re right if you think all of this portrays a bleak picture. Tigers will not live in the wild unless all six of these dangers are protected. Some populations or subspecies are unlikely to persist.

We doubt we’ll ever reach a stage where all wild tigers are extinct, but let’s face it: the odds aren’t in their favor, despite some advances.

That isn’t to say that there haven’t been conservation achievements in recent years or that there won’t be more in the future.

Every victory is priceless, and tigers will continue to require all of the assistance they can obtain.

(Last Updated on March 29, 2022 by Sadrish Dabadi)

Thinley Doma Ghale holds a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Kathmandu University. She enjoys writing articles on climate change animals and loves to travel and experience new ideas, places, meeting people, and learning from them. As a social science student, research has always been her area of interest.