The tiger - more specifically the Siberian tiger - is the largest of all the big cats. It is a heavily muscled, powerful predator that stalks and ambushes large prey, camouflaged by its stripy coat. Unlike other cats, tigers are good swimmers and often cool off in lakes and streams during the heat of the day.
They were were found throughout Asia, from the Caucasus and the Caspian Sea to Siberia and the Indonesian islands of Java, Bali and Sumatra.
Today wild tiger populations now number at less than 3500 individuals. Furthermore there are no longer wild tigers in western Asia and those that still exist are restricted to isolated pockets in the remaining parts of their range.
Where do tigers live?
We know that tigers are territorial, generally solitary, and require large contiguous areas of habitat that support their prey requirements.
Tigers once ranged widely across Asia, and from Turkey in the west to the eastern coast of Russia. But disastrously, over the past 100 years, they have lost 93% of their historic range, and have been extirpated from south-west and central Asia, from the islands of Java and Bali, and from large areas of south-east and eastern Asia! The main reasons behind their dramatic population decline include habitat destruction, habitat fragmentation and poaching by hunters for their body parts and pelts.
Unfortunately it is now probably far too late to turn back the tide of tiger decline as the world has already lost three subspecies of tiger. However, there is some good news as the remaining six tiger subspecies have now been classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN).
The global population in the wild is now estimated to only number between 3,062 to 3,948 individuals, with most of the remaining populations only occurring in small pockets isolated from each other. If circumstances do not change radically over the next few years, then we could be one of the last generations to see tigers in the wild.
For related articles click onto the following links:
ALL ABOUT LIONS
THE BENGAL TIGER
THE SABER-TOOTHED TIGER
THE TASMANIAN TIGER
WHAT ARE THE NINE SUBSPECIES OF TIGER?
WHAT DO TIGERS EAT?
WHAT IS THE WORLD'S LARGEST SPECIES OF TIGER?
WHY DID THE SABER-TOOTHED TIGER BECOME EXTINCT?