HOW MANY TYPES OF TIGER ARE THERE?
There are 9 subspecies of tiger, 3 of which are tragically already extinct. These subspecies include the Bali tiger, the Javan tiger and the Caspian tiger. Each of these subspecies became extinct between the 1940s and 1970s. There are currently 6 types of tiger still alive in the world, all of which are classified endangered. These include the Sumatran tiger, the Bengal tiger, the South China tiger, the Malayan tiger, the Indo-Chinese tiger and the Amur tiger.
IS AN AMUR TIGER THE SAME AS A SIBERIAN TIGER?
The Amur tiger was formerly known as the Siberian Tiger. The name has been updated in recent years reflecting their current distribution around the Amur River basin of northeast Asia.
HOW BIG IS AN AMUR TIGER?
The Amur tiger is the largest of the tiger subspecies, weighing between 110 to 190kg. Their body can reach up to 2m in length, and that’s before you add a meter of tail! Their size makes them incredibly powerful which allows them to bring down prey as big as elk!
WHERE DO AMUR TIGERS LIVE?
The primary habitat of the Amur tiger is called the taiga - these are thick forests in the subarctic region, just south of the arctic circle. Taigas consist primarily of coniferous trees such as spruce, fir and pine, as well as birch trees. It’s a very hostile environment with harsh cold winters and thick snow. Amur tigers live in the mountainous taigas of the Russian Far East and Northern China.
Although Amur Tigers live much of their life in the snow, they are well camouflaged in their dense forest terrain. Their black stripes and orange colourings camouflage them well amongst the trees, and in spring and summer when the snow line recedes, they can blend seamlessly into their surroundings. A tiger’s stripes are much like our fingerprints. They are completely unique to each tiger, something which greatly helps researchers to study and identify individual tigers.
ARE AMUR TIGERS WHITE?
Many people mistakenly believe Amur tigers are white, but this is not true. White tigers are actually Bengal tigers with a recessive gene. Most white tigers have been bred in captivity for commercial reasons and exploitation, and sadly suffer from many genetic defects due to inbreeding. In the wild, white tigers are extremely rare; their lack of camouflage makes their survival rate very low. A white tiger in a forest stands out like a sore thumb!
DO AMUR TIGERS LIVE ALONE?
Like all tiger subspecies, Amur tigers are solitary animals. Unlike lions who tend to live in groups, tigers live alone, and mark their territory with their scent to ward off rivals. Individual tigers will roam vast areas in search of food. This area is called their home range. The less food there is available, the larger their home range must be in order to find enough food to survive. Any other tigers patrolling their home range means more competition for prey, and so tigers are fiercely territorial.
The exception to this is when a male is looking for a mate, or when a female is rearing her cubs. Tiger cubs will stay with their mother for the first two to three years of their lives, before leaving to establish their own home range.
ARE AMUR TIGERS ENDANGERED?
Amur tigers are on the ICUN red list and are considered endangered. Their population fell so low in the 1940s that they almost became extinct. Today numbers are ten times what they were in the 1940s, thanks to conservation efforts and political cooperation. However, their situation is still very perilous and they face many threats from human activity. It is estimated that currently around 500 Amur tigers exist in the wild.
The biggest threats to their survival are poaching, loss of habitat, and the illegal hunting of ungulates, one of the main sources of food for an amur tiger. Since tigers have a very slow population growth rate, anything that has a detrimental affect on their numbers can cause a rapid decrease in the overall population.
Conservation charities such as the WWF and the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation have been working hard to combat the threats facing amur tigers on multiple levels; fighting wildlife crime, through policy and law changes; working with forest rangers to clamp down on illegal logging activities; working with governments to improve and create protected habitats for the tigers to thrive. Supporting charities such as these will help to ensure there a future for these majestic creatures.