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The Different subspecies of Tigers

different species of tigers in world

Tigers around the world

The largest cat species in the world, Tigers (Panthera tigris), can weigh around 385-573 lbs (175-260 kg) as adult males. However, in Kanha National Park, when MB2, a young male aged around 19 – 24 months, was about to relocate, he weighed 420 lbs (191 kg). Their distinctive orange coat with black stripes, creating a unique identity not matching any other tiger, contributes to making them one of the most beautiful cat species in the world.

Weapons to kill: The tail of a tiger ranges from 85 cm to 110 cm in length and features a black band. This tail is instrumental in aiding their movement, especially during hunting, allowing them to reach speeds of up to 40 miles per hour (65 km/h). Among all the big cats, tigers possess the longest canines, measuring between 2.5 to 3 inches (6.4 to 7.6 cm). These formidable teeth serve as a key weapon for hunting and enable them to lift or drag prey that weighs more than 390 pounds (such as the Sambar, which can weigh around 180 kg).

With its maximum energy concentrated in its hind legs, a tiger can leap up to 16 feet high, allowing it to easily ascend onto the back of an elephant. The tiger’s strong, sharp, and retractable claws, which can reach lengths of around 4 inches, aid in gripping and subduing prey.

 

tiger-safari-in-corbett

 

The Senses: The black ears, adorned with a white spot, possess the ability to rotate, enabling them to detect various sounds from different directions within the dense forests of the Indian jungle. This acute sense of hearing is one of the tiger’s most heightened senses.

The sense of smell is a crucial aspect for tigers, particularly in locating potential mates. A tigress marks her territory by spraying, leaving a distinct smell whether or not she is in estrus. When a tiger catches this scent, it will lift its upper lip and curl it upward toward its nose to better detect the smell. This keen sense of smell also aids tigers in identifying other intruders, whether they be tigers or tigresses, within their territory.

Tigers possess exceptional eyesight, estimated to be approximately six times sharper than that of humans. Their eyes feature large pupils and a higher concentration of rod cells, which are responsible for visual acuity in detecting shapes, than cone cells, which aid in color vision. This allows tigers to see remarkably well at night. Their superior vision in low-light conditions has led tigers to adapt as nocturnal animals, primarily active during the night, as well as crepuscular creatures, meaning they are also active during dawn and dusk.

Compared to humans, who typically have around 9,000 taste buds, cats, including tigers, have a significantly lower number at around 500 taste buds. This limited number allows tigers to perceive basic tastes such as saltiness, bitterness, and acidity, with a lesser ability to detect sweetness.

Despite the few taste buds, tigers possess specialized structures on their tongues called papillae. These numerous small, sharp, rear-facing projections aid in stripping feathers, fur, and meat from prey, allowing them to efficiently consume their food.

 

Tiger Safari: The Tiger Safaris in India has witnessed remarkable and rapid growth over the past two decades. In certain national parks like Ranthambhore National Park, up to 140 vehicles are allowed daily. This consistent exposure of tigers to vehicles has resulted in these magnificent creatures becoming accustomed to their presence. A notable example is the Tigress known as Collarwali in Pench National Park, observed utilizing a vehicle as cover during a hunt.

For tiger enthusiasts, exploring the National Parks of India with Nature Safari India offers one of the most immersive and rewarding experiences. This organization provides regular updates on tiger sightings across various regions of India. Their guides and naturalists boast extensive knowledge and excellent communication skills, offering visitors a brilliant interpretive guiding experience.”

 

Different subspecies of Tigers

As per WWF reports, there are an estimated population of around 5,574 Tigers living in the wild left on our planet. Now 13 different countries in the world still have the treasure of one of the most beautiful cat species, Tigers. There are currently 06 different sub-species of Tigers living in the wild. As per the 2022 Tiger census, India has around 75 per cent of the total population of Royal Bengal Tiger in the world, i.e, 3682. Know more about tigers and tiger populations here.

Royal Bengal Tiger (Panthera Tigris), is one of the sub-species we find in India. There were 03 more different sub-species of Tigers which got extinct from our planet are Javan, Caspian and Bali Tigers. One of the sub-species South-China Tiger (Panthera tigris amoyensis), out of 06 subspecies have also been not sighted since the last decade. The six different subspecies of Tigers known to be living in the wild are:

  1. Bengal Tiger (Panthera tigris tigris)
  2. Indochinese Tiger (Panthera tigris corbetti)
  3. Sumatran Tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae)
  4. Siberian or Amur Tiger (Panthera tigris altaica)
  5. Malayan Tiger (Panthera tigris jacksoni)
  6. South-China Tiger (Panthera tigris amoyensis), is most likely extinct from the wild.

 

It is difficult to identify a Tiger from another if you are not used to understanding them. How to identify a Tiger? During the Tiger Safari in India, you may see one Tiger several times. If it is the first time, then without guidance it is difficult to make out the difference, whether it is the same or different.

A key factor to identify is just to observe the marking on the face. However, here we are talking about the different sub-species. These sub-species vary from each other in different aspects like firstly size (Amur is the largest), their stripe patterns, their face structure etc.. Over the years the Tigers living in different regions of the world have adapted and evolved themselves in a way that they could survive in the weather and prey conditions of the region.

 

1. Bengal Tiger (Panthera tigris tigris)

Bengal Tiger is one of the sub-species which are in maximum numbers in the wild compare to other 05 subspecies, is native to the Indian sub-continent. It is found in India, Nepal, Bhutan and Nepal. This is the most well-known Tiger species in the world. As being the highest in number, the chances of seeing these Tigers are high. Having 75 per cent of the total population of the Royal Bengal Tiger, India has been the center of attraction for a Wildlife safari or the Tiger Safari. Read more about top national parks for tiger safari in India.

Bengal Tiger, a male weigh around 385-573 lbs (175-260 kg), with the head to body length of around 270 -310 cm (106-122 in), and the tail with the length of 85-110 cm (33-17 in). Two male tigers were captured in Chitwan National Park, Nepal was around 595 lbs (270 kg) each individual, are the largest reported Tigers to date. Before a few decades back, in the year 1967, a Tiger was shot in the foothills of the Himalayas, Uttar Pradesh, weigh more than 634 lbs (288 kg). It was killed just after it had eaten a calf. The specimen is then taken and now at the US Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC, USA.

In India to maximize the chances of seeing Tiger a well-planned tour, Just Tigers Tour by Nature Safari India is one of the best. In which three prime National Parks of Central India, Pench, Kanha and Bandhavgarh National Parks gets covered.

 

bengal tiger in India

 

 

2. Indochinese Tiger (Panthera tigris corbetti)

As per WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) around 221 individual Indochinese Tigers are living in the wild across six different countries in Southeast Asia namely, Thailand, Cambodia, China, Lao’s People the Democratic Republic, Myanmar and Vietnam. The Indochinese Tigers are smaller than the Bengal Tiger, a male Indochinese Tigers will weigh around 419 lb (190 kg), whereas females weigh just around 287 lb (130 kg).

There was a fall of more than 70 % population of Indochinese Tigers in just two decades, with the rapid development and the road constructions caused the fragmentation of habitat. The best chance of seeing these Tigers is Dawna Tennasarium Landscape on the Thailand-Myanmar border.

 

3. Sumatran Tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae)

Sumatran Tiger is found on the Sumatran Island of Indonesia. IUCN report says that there are around fewer than 400 individuals left in the wild. These Tigers has darker coats. The density of the strips is more than any other Tiger sub-species. They are the smallest of all six sub-species.

Sumatran tigers are smaller than The Bengal and the Javan Tiger. A male of Sumatran Tiger can weigh around 320 lb (145 kg) and a female goes up to around 254 lb (115 kg). No Tigers have the same marking, males in Sumatran Tiger has the prominent ruff (Click here for data).

 

sumatran-tiger-in-wild

 

4. Siberian or Amur Tiger (Panthera tigris altaica)

Siberian Tiger is the largest among all 6 different sub-species of Tigers. An adult male can reach up to the body length of two-meter with his tail adding. The average weight of an adult male Amur Tiger is 440 lb (200 kg); however, it can also weigh around or more than 661 lb (300 kg). As being found in one of the coldest habitats, Siberian Tiger has a very thick fir, which makes them look much bigger in appearance.

95 per cent of the Amur Tiger population is in far Eastern Russia and the rest 5 per cent in Northeast China and possibly North Korea. There are now between 480 to 540 individuals living in the wild in the world.

 

siberian-tiger

 

5. Malayan Tiger (Panthera tigris jacksoni)

Malayan Tiger is found in the Malay Peninsula region, and along with the tip of southern Thailand. Malayan Tigers and Indochinese Tigers appearance are very similar, same like them it is little smaller than the Bengal tiger. It was only in 2004 the Malayan Tiger was recognized as a different sub-species before both were called Indochinese Tigers. There are now less than 150 individuals left in the wild.

Habitat loss due to development projects and agriculture is a serious threat to the decrease in the population of Malayan Tiger.

 

6. South-China Tiger (Panthera tigris amoyensis)

South China Tiger is the second smallest Tiger sub-species, with the weight ranging between 220 lb to 390 lb (100 to 180 kg). These animal has also been called by a different name, like Amoy or Xiamen Tiger. For the last 25 years, there has been no record of the Tiger, they are known to be ‘functionally extinct in the wild.

There was not much difference in Tigers number after the ban of Tiger hunting in China in the year 1979. The population was already on the verge of extinction. In 1996 the estimated population of the South-China Tiger was hunted down to 30-80 individuals.

 

South-China-Tiger-in-wild

 

There were three more different sub-species of Tigers in the world that are extinct now. The extinct subspecies of Tigers which we have not been able to witness are:

 

7. Bali Tigers (Panthera tigris balica)

Bali Tiger is one of the extinct species known to be found in the mangrove forest, dunes, and Savannah vegetation of the Western region of the Island Bali, which is a part of Indonesia. Bali Tiger was known to be the smallest among all 09 sub-species. The last Bali Tiger was recorded in the 1930s, until world war II the Tigers were hunted and their home, habitat has been used by humans lead them to extinction.

 

8. Javan Tiger (Panthera tigris sondaica)

Javan Tiger is known to be found in the Java Island of Indonesia until the 1970s. Javan Tigers were a little bigger than the Royal Bengal Tiger (Panthera tigris tigris). Compare to other Tigers these Tigers used to have a little long and narrow nose. Males used to weigh around 130 to 140 kg, which is almost the size of a Female Royal Bengal Tiger.

 

Javan-Tiger-Indonesia
Image Courtesy: https://factsofindonesia.com/facts-of-javan-tigers

 

9. Caspian Tiger (Panthera tigris virgate)

Caspian Tiger is also called as Hyrcanian Tiger or Turan Tiger, used to be found all around the Caspian Sea region to the west and towards east Northern Iran, Iraq, Eastern Turkey as far as north-west China. The Caspian Tiger are known to the inhabitant of the spares forest riverine corridors in Ukraine and Southern Russian region in the 1970s.

However, now since 2017 IUCN has referred to only two sub-species Continental Tigers and Sunda Tigers. The Sunda Tigers include Sumatran, Java, and Bali Tigers, and the Bengal, Malayan, Indochinese, South Chinese, Amur Tigers all fall in sub-species of Continental Tiger.

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