World tiger population has declined alarmingly in recent decades. Since 1900, the endangered tiger’s habitat and numbers have been reduced by up to 95 per cent.
Poachers continue to poison waterholes or set steel wire snares to kill tigers, selling their skins and body parts for use in traditional Chinese medicine.
Tiger hunting has been a popular sport for years, mostly because anything related to tigers was, and still can be sold at very high prices.
Subspecies still existing
The Siberian tiger is also known as the Amur, Manchurian or North China tiger. It is the largest tiger. It is classified as endangered because its population is not sufficiently large enough for it to be sustainable. There are only 400 of these tigers in the wild, however many of these populations are no longer genetically viable so there is a very large chance of inbreeding. It practically only lives in a very restricted part of Eastern Russia. The Siberian tiger is by far the largest subspecies with its males as long as 10 feet, weighing approximately 800 pounds. This tiger can also be recognized for its thick coat that is pale gold and has very few stripes.
South China Tiger
The South China tiger is also known as “Amoy” or “Xiamen” tiger. This subspecies of tiger is expected to become extinct and is currently in extremely critical danger. No live South China tiger has been seen in its natural habitat in the last 20 years, and the last known wild tiger was shot in 1994. In 1959, Chinese leader Mao Zedong declared the South China tiger a “pest,” and the overall population of this subspecies quickly dropped from about 4,000 to 200 in only 17 years. In 1977, however, the Chinese government reversed this policy. Extinction is now considered inevitable because of a lack of genetic diversity; there are only 59 of these tigers captive in China, and they are all descended from the same six tigers.
The Indochinese tiger is also known as the Corbett’s tiger. It is found in Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. The population of this tiger ranges from 800 to 1000, however it is more likely that it is in the lower part of this range. The Indochinese tiger now mainly exists in Malaysia where illegal poaching is very strictly controlled. In all the populations of this tiger, there are risks of inbreeding and they are at risk for habitat fragmentation. In Vietnam, two thirds of the tigers killed provide stock for Chinese pharmacies. These tigers are also used as resources to try and eliminate poverty.
The Sumatran Tiger is only found on the Indonesian Island of Sumatra and its population is estimated to be between 400 and 500 animals. If it is not made extinct it is believed that this species of tiger will evolve into a separate species because in recent genetic testing, unique genetic markers have been revealed. This gives the Sumatran tiger a greater chance of conservation that any other subspecies. This tigers’ major threat is habitat destruction, and also shootings which killed almost 20% of this subspecies population in only 2 years.
The Bengal Tiger is also known as the Royal Bengal Tiger. It is found in the Sunderbans, which is a national forest of Bangladesh and West Bengal in India. The Bengal tiger is the national animal of both Bangladesh and India. Of all the subspecies of tiger. The Bengal Tiger has the biggest population.
The Malayan Tiger is found in the southern part of the Malay Peninsula. Up until 2004 the Malayan tiger wasn’t considered a subspecies in its own right. It became classified as a subspecies after a study from the Laboratory of Genomic Diversity, which is part of the National Cancer Institute, US. Other than the Bengal Tiger, the Malayan Tiger had the population ranging from 600-800 in the wild.
The Balinese Tiger once lived on the island of Bali, however it was hunted to extinction. It is believed that the last tiger was killed at Sumbar Kima, West Bali on September 27 in 1937 and that it was an adult female. This tiger to this day plays an important role in Balinese Hindu religion. It has never been held in captivity.
The Javan Tiger once lived on the Indonesian island of Java. It was made extinct anywhere from the 1950s to the 1980s because its habitat was destroyed and it was hunted. It is believed that the last tiger was spotted in 1979.
The Caspian Tiger was also known as the Persian tiger. It was yellow with black stripes. It either became extinct in the late 1960s with the last sighting in 1968 or in 1970 when it is claimed that the last one was shot in south-eastern-most Turkey. This tiger lived in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, the former Soviet Union and Turkey.