|A Bengal Tiger (P. tigris tigris) in India's Bandhavgarh National Park.|
|Historical distribution of tigers (pale yellow) and 2006 (green).|
Tigris striatus Severtzov, 1858
There were nine subspecies of Tiger in the world: the Siberian Tiger, the South China Tiger, Indochinese Tiger, the Sumatran Tiger, the Bengal Tiger, the Malayan Tiger, the Balinese Tiger, the Javan Tiger, and the Caspian Tiger or Persian Tiger. Three of these nine subspecies of tiger have gone extinct in the last century and one of them is believed to become extinct in the near future because of human influences. The historical range of these nine subspecies ranges from Russia to Siberia, Iran, Afghanistan, India, China and southeast Asia, and the Indonesian islands. Today though, with a third of the subspecies extinct, their range has greatly diminished.
Subspecies still existing
The Siberian tiger: The Siberian tiger is also known as the Amur, Manchurian or North China tiger. It is classified as endangered because its population is not sufficiently large 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 12 feet, weighing approximately 850 pounds. It is also considered as being the largest and most powerful of all cats. This tiger can also be recognized for its thick coat that is pale gold and has very few stripes.
The South China tiger: The South China tiger is also known as Amoy or Xiamen tiger. This subspecies of tiger will positively become extinct and is right now in extremely critical danger. It is the most endangered of the tiger subspecies. No live South China tiger has been seen in its natural habitat in the last 20 years, and the last known tiger was shot in 1994. In 1959, Mao Zedong a communist leader and Chinese revolutionary declared that the South China tiger was a "bad" animal or "pest", so the overall population of this subspecies quickly dropped from about 4,000 to 200 in only 17 years. Soon however, in 1977, the Chinese government reversed this law, however this subspecies no longer has a chance of being saved, it is far too late. Extinction is now inevitable because there are only 59 of these tigers captive in China, and they are all descendant of 6. Now there is no gennetical diversity and this species is impossible to be saved.
The Indochinese tiger: 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 1,200 to 1,800, 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, their 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: This 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: The Bengal tiger is also known as the Royal Bengal Tiger. It is found in the Sundarbans, which is a national forest of Bangladesh and of West Bengal in India. In this area, there are about 800 tigers. It is also found in Nepal and Bhutan. The Bengal tiger is the national animal of both Bangladesh and India. Of all the subspecies of tiger, this is the most 'common', however it is still threatened by both habitat reduction and poaching.
The Malayan Tiger: 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 largest population ranging from 600-800 in the wild.
The Balinese Tiger: This subspecies of 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 27th in 1937 and that it was an adult female. This tiger to this day plays an important role in Balinese Hindu religion. It has was never held in captivity.
The Javan Tiger: This subspecies of tiger on lived on the Indonesian island of Java. It was made extinct anywhere from the 1950s to the 1980s because its habitat was destructed and it was hunted. It is believed that the last tiger was spotted in 1979.
The Caspian Tiger: This 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.
- Chundawat, R.S., Habib, B., Karanth, U., Kawanishi, K., Ahmad Khan, J., Lynam, T., Miquelle, D., Nyhus, P., Sunarto, Tilson, R. & Sonam Wang (2008). "Panthera tigris". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2008. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 9 October 2008.
- "Wild Tiger Conservation". Save The Tiger Fund. Retrieved 2009-03-07.
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- http://www.catchannel.com/Magazines/CatFancy/april-2008/tiger-subspecies.aspx, Tiger Subspecies, Brad Collus, BowTie Inc., 2009, 10/18/09
- http://www.experiencefestival.com/a/Tiger_-_Subspecies/id/600793, Global Oneness Encyclopedia, Tiger-Subspecies, Google, 10/18/09.