The tiger (Panthera tigris) is the largest of the big cat family. Once there were 9 sub-species roaming the wild, however 3 have all become extinct during the last century. Globally there are estimated to be 3840 wild tigers in existence (April 2016) which encompasses all of the 6 surviving sub-species. More than two thirds of these are found in India.
The 6 modern day surviving sub-species are: Amur (Siberian) Tiger (Panthera tigris altaica); Royal Bengal Tiger (Panthera tigris tigris); Indochinese Tiger (Panthera tigris corbetti); Malayan Tiger (Panthera tigris jacksoni – identified in 2004); Sumatran Tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae); and the South China Tiger (Panthera tigris amoyensis).
The 3 extinct sub-species are: Javan Tiger (Panthera tigris sondaica); Caspian Tiger (Tigris virgata); and the Bali (Balinese) Tiger (Panthera tigris balica).
All tigers need dense vegetation, the presence of a large ungulate prey base and access to water to survive. The different tiger species live in diverse habitats from tropical rain forests to mangrove swamps and temperate forests and from sea level to 4000 metres.
The primary cause of the decline of the tiger population in the main to the destruction of its natural habitat and habitat fragmentation, although hunting and poaching are also factors.
Historically, the tiger’s range was from Mesopotamia and the Caucusus throughout most of southern and eastern Asia. Today the tiger range has been reduced to approximately 7% of
the range of 100 years ago with tiger populations limited to small isolated areas in:
India, Bangladesh, Indonesia (Sumatra), China, Bhutan, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, Nepal, Russia, Thailand, Myanamar and Vietnam.