Several tiger species have already gone extinct. Only two remain, but for how long? Until we can stop the hunting/poaching for their fur and meat for good, they might not ever be able to recover their numbers in the wild. We need to save these amazing big cats from extinction.
The biggest cat in the world is a very stealthy and fierce predator. Silently stalking its prey, it pounces, and with massive force and a crushing bite, it kills its prey. Living in one of the coldest places on Earth, Siberia, it hunts well in snow and can live in temperatures below zero.
The largest cat in the world, the Siberian tiger can grow to be up to 12 feet long, 3.5 feet high and weigh up to 675lbs. Males are usually larger than the females, and they can live up to 15 years. They usually reach sexual maturity between 3-5 years of age and will mate at any time of year.
As stated earlier, Siberian tigers will mate at any time of the year, and when a female wants to mate she will leave urine deposits and scratch marks on trees. She may also go in search of males in other tigers territories. The time window for a female to mate is usually only 3 to 7 days so when she finds a male they will mate several times during that period before the male tiger goes in search of another female.
The gestation period of tigers is three to three and a half months, and after her cubs are born blind, the mother will shelter and feed them for up to three months. At about two weeks old, the cubs start to open their eyes and grow teeth. The mother will start to bring back meat at three months for her cubs to eat and at around five or six months old they will start to accompany their mother on hunting trips. At two years old, they are able to hunt for themselves and take down large prey however they do not leave their mother until they are about three to five years old.
Siberian tigers hunt large and small prey, anything from birds and fish to deer and wild boar. Most of the tiger's time is spent hunting due to the fact that only about one in ten hunting trips are successful. The tiger will creep up on prey up to 80 feet away before it pounces and chomps down on the nape of its prey’s neck. For small targets, this bite usually is the killing bite, but for larger prey, this bite takes it down to the ground until it can deliver the suffocating killing bite to the throat.
If the Siberian tiger misses its target it may chase it up to 650 feet but it rarely catches it after it misses. When it does catch and kill its prey, it drags it to cover or near water then eats its fill. It will cover the remaining meat and go to sleep, then wake up and finish off the rest of the carcass.
Did You Know?
- Large sharp retractable claws help this predator cling to larger prey so it doesn't get away. The claws sink into the prey's flesh as the tiger delivers a killing bite to the throat.
- Siberian Tigers can eat up to 90lbs of meat in one sitting.
The Siberian tiger lives in the cold Amur-Ussuri region of Siberia and in parts of northeast China and Korea. This tiger occupies a large area of territory; ranges of up to 4,000 miles have been recorded. If food is stable, it may stay in the same area for many years. However, if food is scarce, it can travel for hundreds of miles in search of food. Male and female tigers both mark their territories with claw marks and urine sent marks however only males will fight other males around territory boundaries. This is especially true if it’s an area close to a good food source or a female’s territory.
The Siberian tiger is still an endangered species because there are fewer than 1,000 in the wild. It’s said there are only around 400 to 500 of them in the wild as of 2019. There are also now around 4,000 of these tigers in captivity.
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As the second largest cat in the world, the Bengal tiger is the most feared predator in the jungles of northeast India. Growing up to 10 feet long, 3 feet high at the shoulders and up to 585lbs, this big cat can live up to 15 years. It stalks its prey at night, silent and deadly it will attack anything smaller than itself including humans.
This tiger’s main diet includes wild ox and buffalo. However, it can and will eat just about anything smaller than itself. This includes deer, wild pigs, birds, small mammals and even humans. Being nocturnal hunters, they are most active at night and sleep during the day. They can see in the dark and will stalk their prey until it’s within pouncing distance. This is because the Bengal tiger cannot outrun faster prey. With smaller animals, it can kill them with one bite to the back of the neck while larger prey requires a bite to the throat to suffocate and kill them. While it is capable of taking down a large bull ox, it prefers to go after the young or old and weaker animals of the herd. This is because they will put up less resistance and can be caught easier.
Bengals have a life span of up to 15 years and at about 3-4 years they are sexually mature. They normally mate in the spring months and a neighboring male will usually mate with a female in her home range. For the whole 20 to 30 days of the mating season, he will stay with her even though she is only fertile for about 3-7 days. After the mating, the male will leave and go back to his own territory and leave the mother to raise the young on her own.
The gestation period for Bengals is about 15 weeks and she will give birth to 2 to 4 cubs. They feed off their mother for around 8 weeks, after that she will begin to bring them meat to eat. They begin to hunt on their own at 11 months, then after 2-3 years they will leave their mother, and she will be ready to mate again.
Did you Know?
- The Bengal tigers stripes aren’t only fur deep, the black stripes go all the way down to its skin.
- Most tiger’s fur ranges from a reddish tan to orange shading towards a white underbelly; however some tigers have super rare mutations that make their fur colors different such as the white tiger. They are not albinos because they have colored stripes and blue eyes, and other color mutations include the extremely rare black tiger, with little orange stripes on its fur.
Habitat and Range
The Bengal tiger lives in the Sundarbans region of India and Bangladesh. It can also be found in northern and central parts of India and Burma and Nepal. It lives in the forests and jungles where the River Ganges and River Bengal meet. Being solitary hunters, they like to have a lot of room to roam and hunt, so most males will have about 20 miles of territory while females usually have about 17 miles. They also will have several dens in their home range and will use whichever is most convenient at the time.
Back in the 1900’s, there were somewhere between 40-50,000 Bengal tigers in the wild, but by 1972 that number had dropped to 1,850. Thanks to a conservation program, there are now around 4,000 but sadly that number is dropping. As of 2018 there is estimated to be only 2,500 of the Bengal tigers left in the wild.
It's estimated that in captivity there are between 3,000 and 4,700 Bengal tigers.
The South China Tiger, also known as Amoy tiger, is critically endangered.The Amoy tiger is said to be the most primitive of tigers and that other subspecies have evolved from it such as the Siberian and Bengal tigers. In the year 2000 there were only 62 Amoy tigers in captivity. In 2019 it's estimated that less than 20 of these tigers are in the wild. In 1990, a census found a dozen tigers in 11 of the reserved sites in the mountains.
“China has promoted a 1.8 million U.S. dollar project to protect this cat, which otherwise will join the list of extinct tiger races: Caspian, the Javanese, and the Balinese tigers, all vanished in half a century. "It's just a matter of time that wild south China tigers will die out," said Wang Xingjin, Director of the Research Center of Guangzhou Zoo.” ~
Please don’t let the Siberian, Bengal and, Amoy tigers meet the same fate as the Caspian, Javanese and Balinese tigers who have all gone extinct. Don’t let these beautiful animals die out in the wild. Help us save these species by donating to the WWF. Support Organizations dedicated to saving the lives of Tigers and other endangered animals.
Here are some good sites to go to, to show your support and love for these awesome big cats.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Uday Patel from Jabalpur, MP, India on November 19, 2014:
Great Article! I hope the Amoy Tiger Survives in spite of demand for tiger bones in China and other Asian Countries.