Happy Global Tiger Day!
Common Name: Amur Tiger
Latin Name: Panthera tigris altaica
Location: the forests of the Russian Far East and northeast China
Conservation Status: Endangered
The Amur Tiger, also sometimes called the Siberian Tiger, is the largest of all cats and one of six remaining tiger subspecies. They are the northernmost subspecies of tiger, with thick fur and padded paws to help protect them from the cold of winter. Their coloring can be lighter than that of other tigers, especially in winter to help blend in with their snow covered habitat. The oldest Amur Tigers in zoos have lived to 35 years, but the oldest known age for an Amur tiger in the wild was only 14.
In the mid-1900s it is estimated that there were only about 25–30 Amur tigers left in the wild. After the Soviet Union outlawed tiger hunting and actively enforced it, the population grew to about 250. When the Soviet Union dissolved, both tigers and their habitat lost ground. Then zoos and other conservation organizations stepped up to support policing, and tiger numbers again climbed. The most recent IUCN Red List assessment, published in 2022, estimated the population at 265–486 in the Russian Far East with a further small number ranging across the border into China and possibly North Korea.
The primary problem faced today by tigers across Asia is the loss of habitat and associated loss of prey. In the past 20 years 60% of tiger habitat has been lost and tiger numbers reduced by 50%. Habitat destruction has resulted in islands of tiger habitat surrounded by developed areas. This isolates small tiger populations from each other. Most of these tiger populations contain fewer than 50 tigers and are too small for long-term survival in the face of threats such as disease, forest fires, and inbreeding.
Poaching for body parts used in traditional medicinal products also threatens tiger populations. This also is related to habitat loss as roads provide access for poaching tigers. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) makes international trade in tiger parts illegal, but substantial cross-border smuggling of tiger parts still occurs.
In 2012 the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ tiger SSP created the Tiger Conservation Campaign, which focuses on the conservation of Amur, Sumatran, and Malayan tiger populations. In partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Society, these projects work to get at the heart of the crisis, and support and involve local communities in the process. These efforts have raised millions of dollars to directly support the conservation of tigers worldwide.
⦁ No two tigers have the same stripes. Both the skin and fur show the animal’s unique striping pattern.
⦁ The dark and light pattern of a tiger’s stripes helps conceal them by breaking up their body profile.
⦁ Unlike most other cat species, tigers like water and are excellent swimmers.
⦁ A tiger’s night vision is six times stronger than that of a human