The tiger is the largest member of the felid (cat) family. There were once eight subspecies: Caspian, Bengal, Indochinese, Chinese, Siberian, Sumatran, Javan and Bali. Three subspecies are extinct (see below) and the rest are endangered. Tigers have a long, thick, reddish coat with a white belly and white and black tail. The head, body, tail and limbs have narrow black, brown or gray stripes.
Tigers reach up to ten feet in length and weigh 400 to 575 pounds.
Bengal tiger: 3,000-4,000
Indochinese tiger: 1,000-1,700
Chinese tiger: fewer than 30
Siberian tiger: 200 in the wild
Sumatran tiger: 400-500
Caspian tiger: extinct
Javan tiger: extinct
Bali tiger: extinct
Tigers live for ten to 15 years.
Tigers occur in parts of India, Manchuria, China, Indonesia and Russia (Siberia).
Tiger habitat varies widely, from tropical rainforests to snow-covered coniferous and deciduous forests and from mangrove swamps to drier forests.
Tiger prey consists mostly of pigs, deer, antelope, buffalo and other large mammals, although tigers have been known to hunt smaller mammals and birds.
Tigers are solitary hunters that stalk and attack from ambush. Their stripes provide camouflage by breaking up the outline of their bodies when hidden in tall grasses.
The average litter size of a tiger is two to three cubs. Cubs are born blind and weigh two to three pounds.
Tigers rely on their surrounding habitat for camouflage. When farmers and loggers destroy habitat, tigers lose their ability to hide from prey, which also becomes scarcer with the loss of food and habitat. Another serious threat is hunting. Tigers are illegally hunted because some body parts are used in traditional Asian medicines.
Appendix I of CITES*, Endangered Species Act.
on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, an international
treaty with more than 144 member countries. Appendix I listed species cannot be
traded commercially. Appendix II listed species can be traded commercially only
if trade does not harm their survival.