There were originally 9 species of tigers. These were – the Bengal tiger, the Siberian tiger, the Caspian tiger (or Persian tiger), the Balinese tiger, the Javan tiger, the Indochinese tiger, the South China tiger, the Sumatran tiger and the Malayan tiger. Sadly 3 of these types of tiger are now extinct (the Caspian tiger, Balinese tiger and the Javan tiger).
The Latin names for the different types of tiger are:
The Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris)
The Siberian tiger (Panthera tigris altaica)
The Caspian tiger or Persian tiger (Panthera tigris virgata)
The Balinese tiger (Panthera tigris balica)
The Javan tiger (Panthera tigris sondaica)
The Indochinese tiger (Panthera tigris corbetti)
The South China tiger (Panthera tigris amoyensis)
The Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae)
The Malayan tiger (Panthera tigris malayensis)
The Malayan tiger was only officially considered as a subspecies of tiger in 2004.
The tiger is the most endangered species of big cat.
The Bengal tiger is found in parts of India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Burma. Male Bengal tigers will average 205 kg to 227 kg in weight whilst female Bengal tigers have a lower average weight of 141 kg.
A recent study by the Indian Government’s National Tiger Conservation Authority estimate that there are only 1411 wild Bengal tigers in existence.
The Siberian tiger is confined to far eastern Siberia and it is considered to be the largest of the tiger species with an average male Siberian tiger weighing 227 kg.
There are thought to be between 400 – 500 wild Siberian tigers in existence.
The Caspian or Persian tiger is thought to have become extinct in the 1950’s and its habitat was in the Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, the former USSR, and Turkey regions.
The Caspian tiger along with the Bengal tiger are among the larger species of tiger and it was known that the Romans used the Caspian and Bengal tigers to fight men in gladiatorial arenas.
The Balinese tiger existed solely in Bali and was hunted to extinction. It is believed that the last Balinese tiger was killed in 1937 and no Balinese tigers have ever been kept in captivity.
The Javan tiger was also hunted to extinction and lived solely on the Indonesian island of Java. Hunting and the destruction of the Javan tigers natural habitat contributed to its extinction, thought to be in the late 1980’s.
The Indochinese tiger is found in parts of China, Cambodia, Laos, Burma, Vietnam and Thailand. They are smaller and darker in pigment than Bengal tigers. Males weigh between 150 kg and 190 kg, whilst females are smaller at between 110 kg – 140 kg in weight.
Indochinese tigers exist in the wild and in captivity with numbers varying between 1,200 and 1,800 in total.
The South China tiger is found in the south China region and it is a critically endangered species of tiger. In fact it is currently listed in the top 10 most endangered animals in the world. There are currently only 59 known South China tigers in captivity (all in China). However, these have descended from only 6 animals so it is not known whether the gene pool will contain the genetic diversity to sustain the species. Unfortunately, many observers believe that it maybe too late to save the South China tiger from extinction.
The Sumatran tiger is found solely in the wild in the Indonesian island of Sumatra and it is also a critically endangered species. Estimates suggest that there are only 400 – 500 Sumatran tigers in existence with many of them in Sumatran National Parks. Tragically, between the years 1998 and 2000, 66 Sumatran tigers were reported as having been shot. This amounts to 20% of the total species.
The Malayan tiger has only been considered a separate species of tiger since 2004 and lives exclusively in the southern (Malaysian) area of the Malay Peninsula. Even though there are only 600 – 800 Malayan tigers left in existence, it is still the third most abundant species of tiger, behind the Bengal tiger and Indochinese tiger species respectively
Tiger cubs are blind at birth.
A tiger can sustain itself for 2 to 3 days without eating food.