Conservation Status: Endangered
Habitat: Eastern Russia and Asia
The tiger is the largest cat species who once ranged widely across Asia. Over the past 100 years, they have lost over 90% of their historic range.
The global population in the wild is estimated to number between 3,062 and 3,948 individuals, down from around 100,000 at the start of the 20th century. Tigers are one of the most recognizable, and charismatic, animals but they are also one of the most threatened.
At one time, there were 9 recognized sub-species of tigers. Three (the Bali, Caspian, and Javan tigers) became extinct in the 20th century. The remaining sub-species are Bengal, Indochinese, Malayan, Siberian, South China, and Sumatra tigers are all endangered. In 2017 the IUCN revised their taxonomy only recognising two tiger species.
Tigers live primarily alone and aggressively scent-mark large territories to keep their rivals away. They are powerful hunters that travel many miles to find prey, like elk and wild boar. Tigers use their distinctive coats as camouflage and hunt by stealth. They lie in wait and creep close enough to attack their victims with a quick spring and a fatal pounce. A hungry tiger can eat as much as 60 pounds (27.2 kilograms) in one night, though they usually eat less.
Their stripes also help identify them. Tigers' stripes are like humans' finger prints - no two tigers have the same pattern. Field biologists use these unique stripe patterns to identify individuals in the wild.
Despite reputation, most tigers avoid humans; however, a few do become dangerous man-eaters. These animals are often sick and unable to hunt normally, or live in areas where their traditional prey has vanished.