International Tiger Day 2021: What are the different species of tigers?
Bengaluru, July 29: International Tiger Day 2021 also known as World Tiger Day has been held on the 29th July every year since 2010 when it was first created at the Saint Petersburg Tiger Summit. The day is observed to mark the declining population of tigers across the globe.
So, What are the different species of tigers?
There are different species of tigers - Siberian tigers, Bengal tigers, Indochinese tigers, Malayan tigers and South China.
The Bengal tiger is found primarily in India with smaller populations in Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, China and Myanmar. It is the most numerous of all tiger subspecies with more than 2,500 left in the wild.
Siberian tigers are muscular, packed with large heads and powerful forelimbs. Their colors vary from orange to brown that are splashed with white areas and black stripes. Their faces have long whiskers that are longer in male tigers, featuring eyes that don rounded pupils that have been accentuated by yellow irises. The ears, however, are small and rounded with black markings that surround white areas called ocelli, which are not decorative but actually contribute to communication within the species.
The stripe pattern is different in each tiger. The markings are so unique, like human fingerprints, that researchers actually use them to identify a particular tiger.
The tiger has nine subspecies. Three of these are already extinct. The historical range of tigers all across Asia is now significantly smaller. The surviving subspecies of the Pathera tigris trigris, which is popularly known by its common name, Bengal tiger can be found in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal. It is still the subspecies with the most living individuals left, even with its mere 2,500 adult tiger population.
Bengal tigers can be found in alluvial grasslands, rainforests of both the tropical and subtropical kinds, mangroves, deciduous forests and scrub forests. Male Bengal tigers can reach up to 270 to 310 centimeters (110 to 120 inches) while the females reach up to 240 to 265 centimeters (94 to 104 inches). The males are also heavier, at 175 to 260 kilograms (390 to 570 pounds), while the females weigh around 100 to 181 kilograms (220 to 400 pounds). Places also have an effect on the weight and length of the Bengal tiger, with those living in Nepal and India growing to become the largest bunch.
Project Tiger was established in India in 1972. This project was launched by those concerned about the tiger population in the hopes of ensuring that it would remain viable. This effort does not only have biological but also cultural importance. Ironically, culture is partly to blame for poaching. There is an illegal demand for tigers' body parts, especially their bones, which can be used to create Traditional Chinese medicine.
The Panthera tigris corbetti, more commonly known as the Indochinese tiger, can be found in several Asian countries such as Burma, Cambodia, Laos, China, Vietnam and Thailand. They are darker in color and smaller in size than Bengal tigers but they are not lightweights either, with their capacity to reach the maximum weight of 420 pounds for males and 310 pounds for females.
Indochinese tigers prefer to live in forests in areas that are either hilly or mountainous. There aren't a lot of these tigers anymore. The government estimates the subspecies population to be at a mere 350. Even those that have been left behind are still in danger of being poached or even of starving due to the fact that their primary choice of prey, such as wild pigs and deer, are decreasing. In Vietnam, about 75% of the tigers have been poached to serve as Chinese pharmacy stock.
The Panthera tigris jacksoni, otherwise known as the Malayan tiger, can only be found in the south of the Malay Peninsula. The Malayan tiger was only recognized as a subspecies in 2004. A research conducted by Luo and others, from the Laboratory of Genomic Diversity Study (part of the United States' National Cancer Institute), came up with the new subspecies classification.
There are about 500 still-living Malayan tigers but they are endangered by poaching. These are the smallest subspecies on the mainland and even the second smallest living tiger subspecies. The males average at 120 kilograms while the females average at about 100 kilograms. Note that the Malayan tiger has a cultural significance in Malaysia as it has made it to the country's coat of arms. It is also the logo of Maybank, a Malaysian bank. V- Sumatran tigers
The Panthera tigris sumatrae, commonly known as the Sumatran tiger, can only be found in Sumatra, which is an Indonesian island. If you think the other subspecies are in danger of extinction, this particular subspecies has reached the critical point.
Sumatran tigers are the smallest of all living subspecies of the tiger. Adult males weigh between 100 and 140 kilograms (220 to 310 pounds) and the females weigh 75 to 110 kilograms (170 to 240 pounds). This subspecies is small because it adapts to the dense forests of Sumatra. The prey available on the island is also small, which does not do much for the Sumatran tiger's build.
While the population of Sumatran tigers in the wild are around 400 to 500, which is similar to that of other subspecies, genetic testing has shown that the Sumatran tiger may develop or evolve into a different species altogether if it even manages to evade extinction. Because of this fact, there have been suggestions that the particular subspecies should be prioritized when it comes to conserving tiger subspecies.
South China tigers
Panthera tigris amoyensis, also known as the South China tiger, is actually the most endangered tiger subspecies. They are even more endangered than the Sumatran tigers, which are already heavily watched by conservationists. The South China tiger has even made the list of the world's ten most endangered species. The South China tiger belongs to a group of smaller tiger subspecies, with lengths spanning from 2.2 to 2.6 meters (87 to 100 inches). The range of the length of South China tigers is true for both male and female tigers. Males have a weight range of 127 to 177 kg (280 to 390 pounds); females, on the other hand, have a weight range of 100 to 118 kilograms (220 to 260 pounds).
South China tigers were so endangered that between the years 1983 and 2007, they have not even been seen in the wild. A farmer actually had to show some photographs of a South China tiger but those photos were actually debunked as fakes. This sighting ended up becoming part of a huge scandal back in 2007.
The Chinese government made it a law to ban the killing of tigers in 1977. This could be a move that was just a little too late because of the possibility of the wild tigers being already extinct. If they are extinct then there may be less than a hundred South China tigers left, 59 of which are known to be captives. These tigers are believed to be the offspring of only six animals. This is bad news because in order for the subspecies to continue to exist, genetic diversity is needed. There are no efforts to breed the tigers to speak of right now, anyway, and no efforts to bring the tigers back to their natural habitats.