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Tiger
Conservation status: Endangered
Siberian tiger (Panthera tigris altaica)
Siberian tiger (Panthera tigris altaica)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Felidae
Genus: Panthera
Species: P. tigris
Panthera tigris
( Linnaeus, 1758)
Tigers (Panthera tigris) are mammals of the Felidae family and one of four " big cats" in the Panthera genus. A group of tigers is called an "ambush" or a "streak". They are predatory carnivores and the largest and most powerful of all living cats.Most tigers live in forests and grasslands (for which their camouflage is ideally suited). Among the big cats, only the tiger and jaguar are strong swimmers; tigers are often found bathing in ponds, lakes, and rivers. Tigers hunt alone and eat primarily medium-sized herbivores such as deer, wild pigs, and buffalo. However, they will also take larger or smaller prey on occasion. Humans are the tiger's only serious predator and often kill tigers illegally for their fur or penises. Their penises are used as aphrodisiacs in Chinese Medicine rather than for food. Poaching for fur and destruction of habitat have greatly reduced tiger populations in the wild, and it has been placed on the endangered species list.

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Contents

Physical characteristics
Method of killing
Tiger rivals
Subspecies
Tigers in literature and popular culture
Media



Physical characteristics - Contents

Although different subspecies of tiger have different characteristics, in general male tigers weigh between 150 and 325 kg (330 lb and 715 lb) and females between 100 and 167 kg (220 lb and 367 lb). The males are between 2.6 and 3.3 metres (8 ft 6 in and 10 ft 9 in) in length, and the females are between 2.3 and 2.75 metres (7 ft 6 in and 9 ft) in length. Of the living subspecies, Sumatran Tigers are the smallest, and Amur (Siberian) Tigers the largest.
White Tiger
White Tiger
The ground of the coat may be any colour from yellow to orange-red, with white areas on the chest, neck, and the inside of the legs. A common recessive variant is the white tiger, which may occur with the correct combination of parents. They are not true albinos. Black or melanistic tigers have been reported, but no live specimen has ever been captured or photographed. Another variant, the golden tabby tiger (also called the "golden tiger" or "tabby tiger"), has a golden hue, much lighter than the colouration of normal tigers, and brown stripes. This form is very rare, and only a handful of golden tabby tigers are known to exist, all in captivity. There are also old texts referring to 'blue'or 'Maltese' tigers, actually a silvery-grey tone, though no reliable evidence has been found.The stripes of most tigers vary from brown or grey to pure black, although white tigers have far fewer apparent stripes. The form and density of stripes differs between subspecies, but most tigers have in excess of 100 stripes. The now extinct Javan Tiger may have had far more than this. The pattern of stripes is unique to each animal, and thus could potentially be used to identify individuals, much in the same way as fingerprints are used to identify people. This is not, however, a preferred method of identification, due to the difficulty of recording the stripe pattern of a wild tiger. It seems likely that the purpose of stripes is camouflage, serving to hide these animals from their prey (few large animals have colour vision as capable as that of humans, so the colour is not as great of a problem as one might suppose). The stripe pattern is found on a tiger's skin and if you shaved one, you would find that its distinctive camouflage pattern would be preserved.


Method of killing - Contents

Tigers use their strength and body size to knock their prey off balance. Tigers overpower their prey from almost any angle, usually from ambush, and bite the neck, often breaking the prey's spinal column or windpipe, or severing the jugular vein or carotid artery, much as the domestic cat does to far smaller prey.Powerful swimmers, tigers are known to kill prey while swimming. Some tigers have even ambushed boats for the fishermen on board or their catch of fish.


Tiger rivals - Contents

Tigers are superpredators and they lack natural predators; however, some creatures are strong or powerful enough to face a tiger. Some of the tiger's natural prey species can be dangerous if not killed instantly; water buffalo (the wild variety) is an extremely aggressive beast with deadly horns. They are arguably the most difficult prey in the tiger's menu. Elephants, on the other hand, are way too big when full grown, but calves are attacked single-handedly by the most powerful feline species in the world, and sometimes a tiger will attack an adult elephant if there are people riding it (most of the time these are defensive attacks, for example a tigress protecting her cubs). Even grown up elephants become nervous when they hear the roar of a tiger, or even when they smell its scent. Tigers are known to kill crocodiles when they find them far from the water, but crocodiles can be dangerous to big cats if they are in their element. Probably the greatest rival of the tiger (besides other tigers and man) is the bear. Tigers in India share their jungles and forests with the sloth bear. This animal is much smaller than a tiger, but its extremely aggressive and it reportedly attacks tigers when cornered or startled. However, in a face to face fight, the sloth bear is almost always the loser. In Russia, Siberian Tigers and Brown Bears are enemies. Tigers are known to kill large male bears, but sometimes the bear is the one who kills the tiger.


Subspecies - Contents

There are nine subspecies of tiger, three of which are extinct and one of which is almost certain to become so in the near future. Their historical range (severely diminished today) ran through Russia, Siberia, Iran, Afghanistan, India, China and southeast Asia, including the Indonesian islands. These are the surviving subspecies, in descending order of wild population:
Siberian Tiger
Siberian Tiger
  • The Siberian Tiger (Panthera tigris altaica), also known as the Amur, Manchurian or North China tiger, is confined almost completely to a very restricted part of eastern Russia where it is now protected. There are less than 400 of these tigers in the wild, and many populations are likely to no longer be genetically viable, subject to potentially catastrophic inbreeding. Considered the largest subspecies, the largest wild Siberian tiger on record weighed 384 kilograms (845 pounds), while a captive one weighed 423 kilograms (930 pounds). Some Bengal tigers grow to the same length as Siberian tigers, but they are less stocky, and the maximum weight recorded for a wild Bengal tiger is 270 kilograms (594 pounds). Weights can vary substantially depending on whether the tiger has been fully fed or has an empty belly. The average weight of male Siberian tiger is around 225 kg (495 lb). The Siberian Tiger is also noted for its thick coat, distinguished by a paler golden hue and a smaller number of stripes. The Siberian tiger is the most powerful of all living cats. [1]
  • The South China Tiger (Panthera tigris amoyensis), also known as the Amoy or Xiamen tiger, is the most critically endangered subspecies of tiger and will almost certainly become extinct. This species of tiger is the smallest of the tiger family. The length of the South China Tiger ranges from 87-104 inches for both males and females. Also, males weigh between 280 and 390 pounds while females weigh between 220 and 260 pounds. There are believed to be between 440 and 590 wild South China Tigers remaining in the world. It seems likely that the last known wild South Chinese tiger was shot and killed in 1994, and no live tigers have been seen in their natural habitat for the last 20 years. In 1959, Mao Zedong declared the tiger to be a pest, and numbers quickly fell from about 4,000 to approximately 200 in 1976. In 1977, the Chinese government reversed the law, and banned the killing of wild tigers, but this appears to have been too late to save the subspecies. There are currently 59 known captive Chinese tigers, all within China, but these are known to be descended from only six animals. Thus, the genetic diversity required to maintain the subspecies no longer exists, making its eventual extinction very likely.
  • Indochinese Tiger (Panthera tigris corbetti), also called Corbett's tiger, is found in Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. Estimates of its population vary between 1,200 to 1,800, but it seems likely that the number is in the lower part of the range. The largest current population is in Malaysia, where illegal poaching is strictly controlled, but all existing populations are at extreme risk from habitat fragmentation and inbreeding. In Vietnam, almost three-quarters of the tigers killed provide stock for Chinese pharmacies. Also, the tigers are seen by poor natives as a resource through which they can ease poverty.
Panthera tigris sumatran subspecies resting.
Panthera tigris sumatran subspecies resting.
  • The Sumatran Tiger (Panthera tigris sumatran) is found only on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The wild population is estimated at between 400 and 500 animals, occurring predominantly in the island’s five national parks. Recent genetic testing has revealed the presence of unique genetic markers, indicating that it may develop into a separate species, if it is not made extinct. This has led to suggestions that Sumatran Tigers should have greater priority for conservation than any other subspecies. Habitat destruction is the main threat to the existing tiger population (logging continues even in the supposedly protected national parks), but 66 tigers were recorded as being shot and killed between 1998 and 2000—nearly 20% of the total population.
Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris)
Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris)
  • The Bengal Tiger or the Royal Bengal Tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) is largely found in the Sundarbans, a national forest of Bangladesh and of West Bengal, India. According to recent counts in a joint effort of the Bangladesh and Indian governments, there are about 800 tigers in this area. The Bengal Tiger is also found in Nepal and Bhutan. It is the national animal of both Bangladesh and India. Even though this is the most 'common' tiger, these tigers are under severe pressure from both habitat reduction and poaching. However, there is a debate that there are not as many tigers in the sunderbans, but are more sparsley populated over India, Nepal, and Bangladesh.
  • The Malayan Tiger (Panthera tigris jacksoni), exclusively found in the southern ( Malaysian) part of the Malay Peninsula, which until 2004 wasn't considered a subspecies in its own right. The new classification came about after a study by Luo et al from the Laboratory of Genomic Diversity Study, part of the National Cancer Institute, US. Recent counts showed there are 600-800 tigers in the wild, making it the largest tiger population other than the Bengal Tiger. The Malayan Tiger is a national icon in Malaysia, appearing on its coat of arms and in logos of Malaysian institutions, such as Maybank.


Recently Extinct
Tigers are uncommon in the fossil record. The distinct fossils of tigers were discovered from Pleistocene deposits—mostly in Asia. Nevertheless, remains of described tiger fossils 100,000 years old in Alaska. Possibly because of a land bridge between Siberia and Alaska during the ice ages, this Alaskan tiger might be a North American population of Siberian tiger. In addition, scientists discover similarities between tiger bones and those of the American lion: an extinct big cat that dominated much of North America as recently as 10,000 years ago. This controversial observations may lead to the assumption that the American lion was a New World tiger species. Tiger fossils have also turned up in Japan. These fossils prove that the Japanese tiger was no bigger than the island subspecies of tigers of recent ages. This may be due to the phenomenon in which body is related to environmental space, or in the case of a large predator like a tiger, availability of prey.
  • The Balinese Tiger (Panthera tigris balica) has always been limited to the island of Bali. These tigers were hunted to extinction—the last Balinese Tiger is thought to have been killed at Sumbar Kima, West Bali on 27 September 1937; this was an adult female. No Balinese Tiger was ever held in captivity. The tiger still plays an important role in Balinese Hindu religion.
  • The Javan Tiger (Panthera tigris sondaica) was limited to the Indonesian island of Java. It now seems likely that this subspecies was made extinct in the 1980s, as a result of hunting and habitat destruction, but the extinction of this subspecies was extremely probable from the 1950s onwards (when it is thought that fewer than 25 tigers remained in the wild). The last specimen was sighted in 1979.
  • The Caspian Tiger or Persian Tiger (Panthera tigris virgata) appears to have become extinct in the late 1960s, with the last reliable sighting in 1968. Historically it ranged through Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, the former Soviet Union and Turkey. It was said, such a tiger was last shot dead in the south-eastern-most Turkey in 1970. This tiger was said to be yellow with black stripes.



Tigers in literature and popular culture - Contents

Tyger! Tyger! Burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?...William Blake, "The Tyger", Songs of Experience
The word tiger is borrowed from Greek tigris, itself borrowed from Persian ( [3]). American English Tigress first recorded 1611. Tiger's-eye "yellowish-brown quartz" is recorded from 1891.The tiger has certainly managed to appeal to man's imagination. Both Rudyard Kipling in The Jungle Books and William Blake in his Songs of Experience depict him as a ferocious, fearful animal. In The Jungle Books, the tiger Shere Khan is the biggest and most dangerous enemy of Mowgli, the uncrowned king of the jungle. Even in the Bill Watterson comic strip, Calvin and Hobbes, Hobbes the tiger sometimes escapes his role of cuddly animal. At the other end of the scale there is Tigger, the tiger from A. A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh stories, who is always happy and never induces fear. In the award winning A Tiger for Malgudi, a Yogi befriends a tiger. Rajah, a pet of the characters Aladdin and Jasmine of Disney's animated feature film Aladdin, is uncharacteristically dog-like in its behaviour, but even more oddly Tony the Tiger is renowned for his Frosted Flakes and may be the only cat, real or fictional, who thrives on a vegetarian diet.A stylized tiger cub was a mascot of the 1988 Summer Olympic Games of Seoul with the name "Hodori", and the tiger is one the most chosen animals to be a mascot for sports teams, e.g. Major League Baseball team Detroit TigersHumble Oil, a division of Standard Oil Company of New Jersey (Jersey Standard), used a stylized tiger to promote gasoline and the slogan "Put a Tiger in your Tank". Jersey Standard adopted the use of a real tiger in its advertising when it took the Exxon name company-wide in 1972, and the brand kept the tiger mascot as a part of ExxonMobil when they merged in 1999.Most recently, Yann Martel won the Man Booker Prize in 2002 with his novel Life of Pi about an Indian boy castaway on the Pacific Ocean with a Royal Bengal Tiger.In the Chinese novel Water Margin, tigers appeared numerous times as attacking travellers. In the Wu Song story he became famous when slaying a tiger with his barehands who had been terrorizing the local towns nearly a decade. In reality, wild tigers, being dwellers of the jungle, have rarely been found in larger human cities in China, where the idea of a tiger on the street can act as a symbol of paranoia or unfounded fear, giving rise to such idioms as three men make a tiger. The Tiger belongs to one of the 12 Chinese Zodiac heavenly creatures, people born in year of the Tiger tend to be independent and strong. Also, Tiger has always been seen as a fierce and dangerous beast compared to Lion, which the Chinese consider as a noble creature.The tiger was used by the Romans in the Roman Coliseum in gladiatorial showdowns with men, often for entertainment purposes. They were also pitted against other beasts in the Coliseum. It's said that tigers often emerged victorious against lions in mortal combat at the Coliseum.


Media - Contents

Endangered TV Video of the Siberian Tiger and other Endangered Animals. Endangered TV Video of the Sumatran Tiger and other Endangered Animals. Endangered TV Video of the Indochinese Tiger and other Endangered Animals. Imagine Animals Free images of the Indochinese Tiger and other Endangered Animals. Imagine Animals Free images of the Siberian Tiger and other Endangered Animals. Imagine Animals Free images of the Sumatran Tiger and other Endangered Animals.Video of the Panthera tigris at Disney's Animal Kingdom
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Panthera tigris #1 ( info)
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Panthera tigris #8 ( info)
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