Endangered Animal Species: Part-7, Tiger

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Endangered Animal Species: Part-7, Tiger

The tiger is the largest feline that exists in nature and is also one of the largest terrestrial predators, with only the brown bear and the polar bear capable of exceeding their tonnage. The size of the tiger varies greatly from one subspecies to another.

In fact, a male Sumatran tiger weighs no more than 140 kg by 2.3 meters in length, while a Siberian tiger can exceed 300 kg by 3.3 meters in length or more. The height at the withers of the tiger is also very variable depending on the subspecies, from 85 cm to one meter, as well as its total length, with the tail, from 2 to 3.7 meters, and the weight, which can vary.

from 65 to over 300 kg. The Siberian tiger is the largest subspecies. A wild male killed near the Songhu River in China in 1943 measured 3.50 m and weighed more than 300 kg. The second largest subspecies is the Bengal tiger, whose record belongs to a specimen killed in 1967 that weighed 389 kg.

Nowadays, the Siberian tiger population in the wild is much smaller than that of Bengal and it is believed to have suffered the most from the genetic shrinkage of the subspecies (the more a species is persecuted by hunters, the more it shrinks as the specimens more large are killed).

In fact, today's Siberian tigers are smaller than in the past and comparable in size to those of Bengal. By now the tigers have lost 93% of their range. According to the WWF, in 2016, only about 3890 tiger specimens in the wild remain present in the world, an all-time low (in 1900 there were about 100,000, in 1980 still about 21,500).

Endangered Animal Species: Part-7, Tiger

Currently the states in which it is present in nature are thirteen: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Nepal, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam, there are probably also some specimens in North Korea, but there is no recent evidence to confirm.

To date, thanks to human intervention, populations of tigers in the wild are also present in South Africa. Despite the measures to protect the conservation of the species, currently all tiger subspecies are to be considered in danger of extinction.

This is an accelerating process since the last two centuries. Until the mid-eighteenth century, the specimens of this species were numerous and moved easily in every part of Asia, constituting their own territories wherever there was an abundance of prey.

Their combined population exceeded the figure of 100,000, of which 40,000 were in the Indian jungles. From the second half of the eighteenth century, the situation began to change radically. Firearms, which became more efficient, put the exponents of the wealthy classes in a position to make tiger hunting an elitist activity.

At the same time, the intensification of commercial relations with Europe caused a strong demand on the market for valuable timber, such as mahogany, which grows in Indian forests. The indiscriminate hunting of the tiger by man, due in particular to poaching for the leather trade, to the beliefs of traditional Chinese medicine and to the fear that the animal inspires for its reputation as a man-eater, all aggravated by the constant reduction of its natural habitat, have led to a drastic decrease in the number of specimens in the wild.

The latest surveys put the number at around 3,200 specimens. To allow a better safeguard of the species, natural reserves have been created, distributed in the territories characterized by such a habitat, as to allow the tiger a good survival in nature.

There are currently twenty-three reserves on Indian territory, three national parks in Nepal, nineteen in Thailand, fourteen protected areas in Vietnam, five reserves on the island of Sumatra, three reserves in Russia and one in China.