Tiger's historic range in about 1850 (pale yellow) and in 2006 (in
Felis tigris Linnaeus, 1758
Tigris striatus Severtzov, 1858
Tigris regalis Gray, 1867
The tiger (
Panthera tigris) is the largest cat species, most
recognizable for their pattern of dark vertical stripes on
reddish-orange fur with a lighter underside. The species is classified
in the genus
Panthera with the lion, leopard, jaguar, and snow
leopard. Tigers are apex predators, primarily preying on ungulates
such as deer and bovids. They are territorial and generally solitary
but social animals, often requiring large contiguous areas of habitat
that support their prey requirements. This, coupled with the fact that
they are indigenous to some of the more densely populated places on
Earth, has caused significant conflicts with humans.
Tigers once ranged widely across Eurasia, from the
Black Sea in the
west, to the
Indian Ocean in the south, and from
the east. Over the past 100 years, they have lost 93% of their
historic range, and have been extirpated from Western and Central
Asia, from the islands of
Java and Bali, and from large areas of
Southeast, Southern, and Eastern Asia. Today, they range from the
Siberian taiga to open grasslands and tropical mangrove swamps. The
remaining six tiger subspecies have been classified as endangered by
International Union for Conservation of Nature
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Major
reasons for population decline include habitat destruction, habitat
fragmentation and poaching. The extent of area occupied by tigers is
estimated at less than 1,184,911 km2 (457,497 sq mi), a
41% decline from the area estimated in the mid-1990s.
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, with most remaining populations occurring in small
pockets isolated from each other, in which about 2,000 tigers live on
the Indian subcontinent. In 2016, an estimate of a global wild
tiger population of approximately 3,890 individuals was presented
during the Third
Asia Ministerial Conference on Tiger
Conservation. The WWF declared that the world's count of wild
tigers has risen for the first time in a century.
Tigers are among the most recognisable and popular of the world's
megafauna. They have featured prominently in ancient mythology and
folklore, and continue to be depicted in modern films and literature.
They appear on many flags, coats of arms, and as mascots for sporting
teams. The tiger is the national animal of Bangladesh, India, Malaysia
and South Korea.
2.1 Recent subspecies
3 Evolution and genetics
4.2 Colour variations
5 Distribution and habitat
6 Biology and behaviour
6.1 Social and daily activities
6.2 Hunting and diet
6.3 Enemies and competitors
7.1 Commercial hunting and traditional medicine
8.1 Rewilding and reintroduction projects
8.2 In captivity
9 Relation with humans
9.2 Man-eating tigers
10 Cultural depictions
10.1 In myth and legend
10.2 In literature, art and film
10.3 Political symbolism
11 See also
14 External links
Panthera is probably of
Oriental origin and retraceable to
Ancient Greek word panther, the
Latin word panthera, the Old
French word pantère, most likely meaning "the yellowish animal", or
from pandarah meaning whitish-yellow. The derivation from Greek pan-
("all") and ther ("beast") may be folk etymology.
The word specific name tigris derives from the Classical Greek
language τίγρις meaning "tiger" as well as the river Tigris.
Middle English tigre and the
Old English tigras (a plural word)
were both used for the animal. These derive from the Old French
tigre, itself a derivative of the
Latin word tigris. The original
source may have been the Persian tigra meaning pointed or sharp and
the Avestan tigrhi meaning an arrow, perhaps referring to the speed
with which a tiger launches itself at its prey.
Carl Linnaeus described the tiger in his work Systema Naturae
and gave it the scientific name
Felis tigris. In 1929, the British
Reginald Innes Pocock
Reginald Innes Pocock subordinated the species under the
Panthera using the scientific name
Following Linnaeus's first descriptions of the species, several tiger
specimens were described and proposed as subspecies. The validity
of several tiger subspecies was questioned in 1999. Most putative
subspecies described in the 19th and 20th centuries were distinguished
on basis of fur length and coloration, striping patterns and body
size, hence characteristics that vary widely within populations.
Morphologically, tigers from different regions vary little, and gene
flow between populations in those regions is considered to have been
possible during the Pleistocene. Therefore, it was proposed to
recognize only two tiger subspecies as valid, namely P. t. tigris in
mainland Asia, and P. t. sondaica in the
Greater Sunda Islands
Greater Sunda Islands and
possibly in Sundaland.
Results of craniological analysis of 111 tiger skulls from Southeast
Asian range countries indicate that
Sumatran tiger skulls differ from
Javan tiger skulls, whereas
Bali tiger skulls are
similar in size to
Javan tiger skulls. The authors proposed to
classify Sumatran and
Javan tiger as distinct species, P. sumatrae and
P. sondaica with
Bali tiger as subspecies P. sondaica balica.
In 2015, morphological, ecological and molecular traits of all
putative tiger subspecies were analysed in a combined approach.
Results support distinction of the two evolutionary groups continental
and Sunda tigers. The authors proposed recognition of only two
subspecies, namely P. t. tigris comprising the Bengal, Malayan,
Indochinese, South Chinese, Siberian and
Caspian tiger populations,
and P. t. sondaica comprising the Javan,
Bali and Sumatran tiger
populations. The authors also noted that this reclassification will
affect tiger conservation management. One conservation specialist
welcomed this proposal as it would make captive breeding programmes
and future rewilding of zoo-born tigers easier. One geneticist was
sceptical of this study and maintained that the currently recognised
nine subspecies can be distinguished genetically.
In 2017, the
Cat Classification Task Force of the
Group revised felid taxonomy and now recognizes the tiger populations
Asia as P. t. tigris, and those in the
Sunda Islands as
P. t. sondaica. At present, the
Catalogue of Life
Catalogue of Life still
list eight subspecies.
The following table is based on the classification of the species
Panthera tigris provided in
Species of the World. It also
reflects the classification used by the
Cat Classification Task Force:
Bengal tiger (P. t. tigris) (Linnaeus, 1758)
Bengal tiger's coat colour varies from light yellow to reddish
yellow with black stripes. Males attain a total nose-to-tail
length of 270 to 310 cm (110 to 120 in) and weigh between
180 to 258 kg (397 to 569 lb), while females range from 240
to 265 cm (94 to 104 in) and 100 to 160 kg (220 to
350 lb). In northern
India and Nepal, the average is
larger; males weigh up to 235 kilograms (518 lb), while females
average 140 kilograms (310 lb). Recorded body weights of wild
individuals indicate that it is the heaviest subspecies.
This population occurs in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, foremost
in alluvial grasslands, subtropical and tropical rainforests, scrub
forests, wet and dry deciduous forests and mangrove habitats. It is
extinct in Pakistan. In 2014, the population in
India was estimated
at 2,226 mature individuals, 163–253 in
Nepal and 103 in
Caspian tiger (P. t. tigris), formerly P. t. virgata (Illiger,
Caspian tiger was described as having narrow and closely set
stripes. The size of its skull did not differ significantly from
that of the
Bengal tiger. According to genetic analysis, it was
closely related to the Siberian tiger.
The population inhabited forests and riverine corridors south and east
of the Black and Caspian Seas, from Eastern Anatolia into Central
Asia, along the coast of the
Aral Sea and the southern shore of Lake
Balkhash to the Altai Mountains. It had been recorded in the wild
until the early 1970s and is considered extinct since the late 20th
Siberian tiger (P. t. tigris), formerly P. t. altaica (Temminck,
1844). Also known as the Amur tiger.
Siberian tiger has a thick coat with pale hues and few dark brown
stripes. Males have a head and body length of between 190 and
230 cm (75 and 91 in) and weigh between 180 and 306 kg
(397 and 675 lb), while females average 160 to 180 cm (63 to
71 in) and 100 to 167 kg (220 to 368 lb). Tail length
is about 60–110 cm (24–43 in).
This population inhabits the Amur-Ussuri region of
Primorsky Krai and
Khabarovsk Krai in far eastern Siberia, with a small population in
Hunchun National Siberian
Tiger Nature Reserve in northeastern China
near the border to North Korea. It is extinct in Mongolia,
North Korea, and South Korea. In 2005, there were 331–393 adult
and subadult Siberian tigers in the region, with a breeding adult
population of about 250 individuals. As of 2015, there was an
estimated population of 480-540 individuals in the Russian Far
Indochinese tiger (P. t. tigris), formerly P. t. corbetti Mazák,
Indochinese tiger was described as being smaller than the Bengal
tiger and as having a smaller skull. Males average 108 inches
(270 cm) in total length and weigh between 150 and 195 kg
(331 and 430 lb), while females average 96 inches (240 cm)
and 100–130 kg (220–290 lb).
This population occurs in Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, but has not been
Vietnam since 1997. In 2010, the population in Indochina
was estimated at about 350 individuals. In Southeast Asia, tiger
populations have declined in key areas and are threatened by illegal
production of tiger bone for use in traditional medicine.
Malayan tiger (P. t. tigris), formerly P. t. jacksoni Luo et al.,
There is no clear difference between the Malayan and the Indochinese
tiger in pelage or skull size. It was proposed as a distinct
subspecies on the basis of mt
DNA and micro-satellite sequences that
differs from the Indochinese tiger.
Males range in total length from 190–280 cm (75–110 in)
and weigh between 47.2 to 129.1 kg (104 to 285 lb), while
females range from 180–260 cm (71–102 in) and 24 to
88 kg (53 to 194 lb).
The population was roughly estimated at 250 to 340 adult individuals
in 2013, and likely comprised less than 200 mature breeding
individuals at the time. The geographic division between Malayan
and Indochinese tigers is unclear as tiger populations in northern
Malaysia are contiguous with those in southern Thailand. In
Singapore the last tiger was shot in 1932; tigers are considered
extirpated since the 1950s.
South China tiger
South China tiger (P. t. tigris), formerly P. t. amoyensis
South China tiger
South China tiger is considered to be the most ancient of the
tiger subspecies and is distinguished by a particularly narrow skull,
long-muzzled nose, rhombus-like stripes and vivid orange colour. Males
range in total length from 230–260 cm (91–102 in) and
weigh between 130 to 180 kg (290 to 400 lb), while females
range from 220–240 cm (87–94 in) and 100 to 110 kg
(220 to 240 lb).
The population is extinct in the wild. Despite unconfirmed reports
and some evidence of footprints, there has been no confirmed sighting
China since the early 1970s. As of 2007, the captive population
consisted of 73 individuals, which derived from six wild founders.
Javan tiger (P. t. sondaica) (Temminck, 1844)
Javan tiger was small compared to tigers of the Asian
mainland. Males weighed 100–141 kg (220–311 lb) and
females 75–115 kg (165–254 lb).
This population was limited to the Indonesian island of Java, and had
been recorded until the mid-1970s. After 1979, no more sightings
were confirmed in the region of Mount Betiri. An expedition to
Mount Halimun Salak National Park
Mount Halimun Salak National Park in 1990 did not yield any definite,
direct evidence for the continued existence of tigers.
Bali tiger (P. t. sondaica), formerly P. t. balica (Schwarz,
Bali tiger was the smallest tiger and limited to the Indonesian
island of Bali. It had a weight of 90–100 kg
(200–220 lb) in males and 65–80 kg (143–176 lb)
in females. A typical feature of
Bali tiger skulls is the narrow
occipital plane, which is analogous with the shape of skulls of Javan
In Bali, tigers were hunted to extinction; the last
Bali tiger, an
adult female, is thought to have been killed at Sumbar Kima, West
Bali, on 27 September 1937, though there were unconfirmed reports that
villagers found a tiger corpse in 1963.
Sumatran tiger (P. t. sondaica), formerly P. t. sumatrae Pocock,
It is the smallest of all living tigers. Males range in total length
from 220 to 255 cm (87 to 100 in) and weigh between 100 to
140 kg (220 to 310 lb), while females range between 215 to
230 cm (85 to 91 in) and 75 to 110 kg (165 to
243 lb). The reasons for its small size compared to mainland
tigers are unclear, but probably the result of competition for limited
and small prey. The population is thought to be of
origin and to have been isolated about 6,000 to 12,000 years ago after
a rise in sea-level created the Indonesian island of Sumatra.
The population is the last surviving of the three Indonesian island
tiger populations. It is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN
Red List. By 2008, the wild population was estimated at between 441
and 679 in 10 protected areas covering about 52,000 km2
(20,000 sq mi).
Evolution and genetics
Tiger phylogenetic relationships
Panthera zdanskyi, an extinct relative whose oldest
remains were found in northwest China, suggesting the origins of the
The tiger's closest living relatives were previously thought to be the
Panthera species lion, leopard and jaguar. Results of genetic analysis
indicate that about 2.88 million years ago, the tiger and the snow
leopard diverged from the other
Panthera species, and that both may be
more closely related to each other than to the lion, leopard and
jaguar. Results of a phylogeographic study indicate that all
living tigers had a common ancestor 72,000–108,000 years ago.
Fossil remains of the Longdan tiger were found in the Gansu province
of northwestern China. This species lived at the beginning of the
Pleistocene, about 2 million years ago, and is considered to be a
sister taxon of the modern tiger. It was about the size of a jaguar
and probably had a different coat pattern. Despite being considered
more "primitive", the Longdan tiger was functionally and possibly
ecologically similar to the modern tiger. As it lived in northwestern
China, that may have been where the tiger lineage originated. Tigers
grew in size, possibly in response to adaptive radiations of prey
species like deer and bovids, which may have occurred in Southeast
Asia during the early Pleistocene.
The earliest fossils of true tigers are between 1.6 and 1.8 million
years old and were found in Java. Distinct fossils are known from the
early and middle
Pleistocene deposits in
China and Sumatra. The Trinil
Panthera tigris trinilensis) lived about 1.2 million years ago
and is known from fossils found at
Trinil in Java.
The Wanhsien, Ngandong,
Trinil and Japanese tigers became extinct in
Tigers first reached
India and northern
Asia in the late Pleistocene,
reaching eastern Beringia, Japan, and Sakhalin. Some fossil skulls are
morphologically distinct from lion skulls, which could indicate tiger
presence in Alaska during the last glacial period, about 100,000 years
ago. Fossils found in
Japan indicate the local tigers were smaller
than the mainland forms, possibly due to insular dwarfism. Until the
Holocene, tigers also lived in
Borneo and on the
Palawan island in the
The tiger's full genome sequence was published in 2013. It was found
to have similar repeat composition than other cat genomes and an
appreciably conserved synteny.
Further information: Felid hybrid,
Panthera hybrid, Liger, and Tigon
Lions have been known to breed with tigers (most often the Amur and
Bengal tigers) to create hybrids called ligers and tigons. Such
hybrids were once commonly bred in zoos, but this is now discouraged
due to the emphasis on conservation. Hybrids are still bred in private
menageries and in zoos in China.
The liger is a cross between a male lion and a tigress. Because
the lion sire passes on a growth-promoting gene, but the corresponding
growth-inhibiting gene from the female tiger is absent, ligers grow
far larger than either parent species. They share physical and
behavioural qualities of both parent species (spots and stripes on a
Male ligers are sterile, but female ligers are
often fertile. Males have about a 50% chance of having a mane, but,
even if they do, their manes will be only around half the size of that
of a pure lion. Ligers are typically between 10 and 12 ft (3.0
and 3.7 m) in length, and can weigh between 800 and 1,000 lb
(360 and 450 kg) or more.
The less common tigon is a cross between a lioness and a male
tiger. Because the male tiger does not pass on a growth-promoting
gene and the lioness passes on a growth inhibiting gene, tigons are
often relatively small, only weighing up to 150 kg (330 lb).
Like ligers, they have physical and behavioural traits from both
parental species, and males are sterile. Females are sometimes fertile
and have occasionally given birth to litigons when mated to a male
Though the tiger's skull is similar to that of the lion, the lower jaw
structure is a reliable indicator of the species
The tiger has a muscular body with powerful forelimbs, a large head
and a tail that is about half the length of its body. Its pelage is
dense and heavy, and colouration varies between shades of orange and
brown with white ventral areas and distinctive vertical black stripes
that are unique in each individual. Stripes are likely
advantageous for camouflage in vegetation such as long grass with
strong vertical patterns of light and shade. The tiger is one
of only a few striped cat species; it is not known why spotted
patterns and rosettes are the more common camouflage pattern among
felids. A tiger's coat pattern is still visible when it is shaved.
This is due not to skin pigmentation, but to the stubble and hair
follicles embedded in the skin, similar to human beards (colloquially
five o'clock shadow), and is in common with other big cats. They
have a mane-like heavy growth of fur around the neck and jaws and long
whiskers, especially in males. The pupils are circular with yellow
irises. The small, rounded ears have a prominent white spot on the
back, surrounded by black. These false "eyespots", called ocelli,
apparently play an important role in intraspecies communication.
The skull is similar to that of the lion, though the frontal region is
usually not as depressed or flattened, with a slightly longer
postorbital region. The skull of a lion has broader nasal openings.
However, due to variation in skulls of the two species, the structure
of the lower jaw is a more reliable indicator of the species. The
tiger also has fairly stout teeth; the somewhat curved canines are the
longest among living felids with a crown height of up to 90 mm
The Siberian tiger, the largest tiger in captivity, but not in the
wild, and the tallest tiger at the shoulder, besides the
Tigers are the most variable in size of all big cats, much more so
than lions. Barring hybrids like the liger, the
Siberian tigers, and Asiatic lion appear to be the tallest felids
at the shoulder. The
Bengal and Siberian tigers are also ranked
with the extinct
Caspian tiger among the biggest felids that ever
existed. However, on average in the wild, an adult, male Siberian
tiger (176.4 kilograms (389 lb)) is outweighed by both an adult,
Bengal tiger and
Southern African lion
Southern African lion (187.5–193.3
kilograms (413–426 lb)). Males vary in total length
from 250 to 390 cm (98 to 154 in) and weigh between 90 to
306 kg (198 to 675 lb) with skull length ranging from 316 to
383 mm (12.4 to 15.1 in). Females vary in total length from
200 to 275 cm (79 to 108 in), weigh 65 to 167 kg (143
to 368 lb) with skull length ranging from 268 to 318 mm
(10.6 to 12.5 in). The heaviest wild tiger ever reported had
a total body length of 3.38 m (11.1 ft) over curves. In
either sex, the tail represents about 0.6 to 1.1 m (24 to
43 in) of total length.
There is a notable sexual dimorphism between males and females, latter
being consistently smaller than males. The size difference between
males and females is proportionally greater in the larger tiger
subspecies, with males weighing up to 1.7 times more than females.
Males also have wider forepaw pads than females, enabling gender to be
told from tracks.
Large male Siberian tigers can reach a total length of more than
3.5 m (11.5 ft) over curves and 3.3 m (10.8 ft)
between pegs, with a weight of up to 306 kg (675 lb). This
is considerably larger than the weight of 75 to 140 kg (165 to
309 lb) reached by the Sumatran tiger. At the shoulder, tigers
may variously stand 0.7 to 1.22 m (2.3 to 4.0 ft) tall.
The heaviest tiger on record was a
Bengal tiger shot in 1967 allegedly
weighing 388.7 kg (857 lb); unverified is whether this
individual had a full or empty stomach. It has been
hypothesised that body size of different tiger populations may be
correlated with climate and be explained by thermoregulation and
Bergmann's rule, or by distribution and size of available prey
White tigers, this recessive colour variant is found in the
Siberian tigers, and with regular stripes and blue eyes. It is not
A golden tiger, another colour variant, results in thicker light-gold
fur, pale legs and faint orange stripes
A well-known allele found only in the
Bengal subspecies produces the
white tiger, a colour variant first recorded in the early 19th century
and found in an estimated one in 10,000 natural births. Genetically,
whiteness is recessive: a cub is white only when both parents carry
the allele for whiteness. It is not albinism, pigment being
evident in the white tiger's stripes and in their blue eyes. The
causative mutation changes a single amino acid in the transporter
White tigers are more frequently bred in captivity, where the
comparatively small gene pool can lead to inbreeding. This has given
white tigers a greater likelihood of being born with physical defects,
such as cleft palate, scoliosis (curvature of the spine), and
strabismus (squint). Even apparently healthy white tigers
generally do not live as long as their orange counterparts. Attempts
have been made to cross white and orange tigers to remedy this, often
mixing with other subspecies in the process.
Another recessive gene creates the "golden" or "golden tabby" colour
variation, sometimes known as "strawberry". Golden tigers have thicker
than usual light-gold fur, pale legs, and faint orange stripes. Few
golden tigers are kept in captivity; they are invariably at least part
Bengal. Some golden tigers carry the white tiger gene, and when
two such tigers are mated, they can produce some stripeless white
offspring. Although a "pseudo-melanistic" effect—wide stripes that
partially obscure the orange background—has been seen in some pelts,
no true black tigers have been authenticated, with the possible
exception of one dead specimen examined in
Chittagong in 1846. These
wholly or partially melanistic tigers, if they exist, are assumed to
be intermittent mutations rather than a distinct species.
There are further unconfirmed reports of a "blue" or slate-coloured
variant, the Maltese tiger. However, while some felids do exhibit this
colouration as a solid coat, there is no known genetic configuration
that would result in black stripes on a blue-gray background.
Distribution and habitat
At the end of the last glacial period about 20,000 years ago, the
tiger was widespread from
Eastern Anatolia Region
Eastern Anatolia Region and Mesopotamia, in
Asia to eastern
Siberia and South and Southeast
Asia to the
Indonesian islands of Java,
Bali and Sumatra. Today, tigers are
regionally extinct in Afghanistan, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan,
Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Iran,
Pakistan and Singapore.
Fossil remains indicate tigers were also present in
Beringia in the
Japan to the east, and
Palawan in the
the south during the Late
Pleistocene and Early
During the 20th century, tigers became extinct in Western and Central
Asia, and were restricted to isolated pockets in the remaining parts
of their range. They were extirpated on the island of
Bali in the
1940s, around the
Caspian Sea in the 1970s, and on
Java in the 1980s.
This was the result of habitat loss and the ongoing killing of tigers
and tiger prey. Today, their significantly fragmented and depopulated
range extends eastward from
India to Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal,
Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, China, Malaysia,
North Korea and Russia. The northern limit of their range
is close to the
Amur River in southeastern Siberia. The only large
island they still inhabit is Sumatra. Since the beginning of the
20th century, tigers' historical range has shrunk by 93%. In the
decade from 1997 to 2007, the estimated area known to be occupied by
tigers has declined by 41%.
The tiger occupies a wide range of habitat types, but will usually
require sufficient cover, proximity to water, and an abundance of
prey. It prefers dense vegetation, for which its camouflage colouring
is ideally suited, and where a single predator is not at a
disadvantage compared with the multiple cats in a pride. A further
habitat requirement is the placement of suitably secluded den
locations, which may consist of caves, large hollow trees, or dense
Bengal tiger in particular lives in many types of
forests, including wet, evergreen, and the semi-evergreen forests of
Assam and eastern Bengal, swampy mangrove forests of the Ganges Delta,
deciduous forest in the Terai, and thorn forests in the Western Ghats.
In various parts of its range it inhabits or had inhabited
additionally partially open grassland and savanna as well as taiga
forests and rocky habitats.
Biology and behaviour
Tigers are comfortable in water and frequently bathe
Social and daily activities
Captive male South Chinese tiger marking his territory
A captive tiger swimming and playing with a piece of wood in a pool
Adult tigers lead largely solitary lives. They establish and maintain
territories but have much wider home ranges within which they roam.
Resident adults of either sex generally confine their movements to
their home ranges, within which they satisfy their needs and those of
their growing cubs. Individuals sharing the same area are aware of
each other's movements and activities. The size of the home range
mainly depends on prey abundance, and, in the case of males, on access
to females. A tigress may have a territory of 20 km2
(7.7 sq mi), while the territories of males are much larger,
covering 60 to 100 km2 (23 to 39 sq mi). The range of a
male tends to overlap those of several females, providing him with a
large field of prospective mating partners.
The tiger is a long-ranging species, and individuals disperse over
distances of up to 650 km (400 mi) to reach tiger
populations in other areas.
It is strong swimmer and often bathes in ponds, lakes and rivers, thus
keeping cool in the heat of the day. Among the big cats, only the
jaguar shares a similar fondness for water. Individuals can cross
rivers up to 7 km (4.3 mi) wide and can swim up to
29 km (18 mi) in a day. They are able to carry prey
through or capture it in the water.
Young female tigers establish their first territories close to their
mother's. The overlap between the female and her mother's territory
reduces with time. Males, however, migrate further than their female
counterparts and set out at a younger age to mark out their own area.
A young male acquires territory either by seeking out an area devoid
of other male tigers, or by living as a transient in another male's
territory until he is older and strong enough to challenge the
resident male. Young males seeking to establish themselves thereby
comprise the highest mortality rate (30–35% per year) amongst adult
To identify his territory, the male marks trees by spraying
urine and anal gland secretions, as well as marking trails
with scat and marking trees or the ground with their claws. Females
also use these "scrapes", as well as urine and scat markings. Scent
markings of this type allow an individual to pick up information on
another's identity, sex and reproductive status. Females in oestrus
will signal their availability by scent marking more frequently and
increasing their vocalisations.
Although for the most part avoiding each other, tigers are not always
territorial and relationships between individuals can be complex. An
adult of either sex will sometimes share its kill with others, even
those who may not be related to them.
George Schaller observed a male
share a kill with two females and four cubs. Unlike male lions, male
tigers allow females and cubs to feed on the kill before the male is
finished with it; all involved generally seem to behave amicably, in
contrast to the competitive behaviour shown by a lion pride. In
his book Tiger, Stephen Mills describes a social eating event
witnessed by Valmik Thapar and Fateh Singh Rathore in Ranthambhore
National Park thus:
A dominant tigress they called Padmini killed a 250 kg
(550 lb) male nilgai – a very large antelope. They found her at
the kill just after dawn with her three 14-month-old cubs and they
watched uninterrupted for the next ten hours. During this period the
family was joined by two adult females and one adult male, all
offspring from Padmini's previous litters, and by two unrelated
tigers, one female the other unidentified. By three o'clock there were
no fewer than nine tigers round the kill.
Siberian tiger swimming at Wuppertal Zoo
Occasionally, male tigers participate in raising cubs, usually their
own, but this is extremely rare and not always well understood. In May
2015, Amur tigers were photographed by camera traps in the
Sikhote-Alin Bioshpere Reserve. The photos show a male Amur tiger pass
by, followed by a female and three cubs within the span of about two
minutes. In Ranthambore, a male
Bengal tiger raised and defended
two orphaned female cubs after their mother had died of illness. The
cubs remained under his care, he supplied them with food, protected
them from his rival and sister, and apparently also trained them.
Male tigers are generally more intolerant of other males within their
territories than females are of other females. Territory disputes are
usually solved by displays of intimidation rather than outright
aggression. Several such incidents have been observed in which the
subordinate tiger yielded defeat by rolling onto its back and showing
its belly in a submissive posture. Once dominance has been
established, a male may tolerate a subordinate within his range, as
long as they do not live in too close quarters. The most
aggressive disputes tend to occur between two males when a female is
in oestrus, and may rarely result in the death of one of the
Bengal tiger showing flehmen response while sniffing urine
marking in Bandhavgarh National Park, India
Facial expressions include the "defense threat", where an individual
bares its teeth, flattens its ears and its pupils enlarge. Both males
and females show a flehmen response, a characteristic grimace, when
sniffing urine markings but flehmen is more often associated with
males detecting the markings made by tigresses in oestrus. Like other
Panthera, tigers roar, particularly in aggressive situations, during
the mating season or when making a kill. There are two different
roars: the "true" roar is made using the hyoid apparatus and forced
through an open mouth as it progressively closes, and the shorter,
harsher "coughing" roar is made with the mouth open and teeth exposed.
The "true" roar can be heard at up to 3 km (1.9 mi) away and
is sometimes emitted three or four times in succession. When tense,
tigers will moan, a sound similar to a roar but more subdued and made
when the mouth is partially or completely closed. Moaning can be heard
400 m (1,300 ft) away. Chuffing, soft, low-frequency
snorting similar to purring in smaller cats, is heard in more friendly
situations. Other vocal communications include grunts, woofs,
snarls, miaows, hisses and growls.
Hunting and diet
An adult tiger showing incisors, canines and part of the premolars and
molars, while yawning in Franklin Park Zoo
Bengal tiger subduing an
Indian boar at Tadoba National Park
In the wild, tigers mostly feed on large and medium-sized animals,
preferring ungulates weighing at least 90 kg
(200 lb). They typically have little or no deleterious
effect on their prey populations. Sambar deer, chital, barasingha,
wild boar, gaur, nilgai and both water buffalo and domestic buffalo,
in descending order of preference, are the tiger's favoured prey in
Tamil Nadu, India, while gaur and sambar are the preferred prey
and constitute the main diet of tigers in other parts of
India. They also prey on other predators, including dogs,
leopards, pythons, sloth bears, and crocodiles.
In Siberia, the main prey species are
Manchurian wapiti and wild boar
(the two species comprising nearly 80% of the prey selected) followed
by sika deer, moose, roe deer, and musk deer. Asiatic black bears
and Ussuri brown bears may also fall prey to tigers, and
they constitute up to 40.7% of the diet of Siberian tigers depending
on local conditions and the bear populations. In Sumatra, prey
include sambar deer, muntjac, wild boar,
Malayan tapir and
orangutan. In the former Caspian tiger's range, prey
included saiga antelope, camels, Caucasian wisent, yak, and wild
horses. Like many predators, tigers are opportunistic and may eat much
smaller prey, such as monkeys, peafowl and other ground-based birds,
hares, porcupines, and fish.
Bengal tiger attacking a sambar in Ranthambore
Tigers generally do not prey on fully grown adult Asian elephants and
Indian rhinoceros but incidents have been reported. More
often, it is the more vulnerable small calves that are taken.
Tigers have been reported attacking and killing elephants ridden by
humans during tiger hunts in the 19th century. When in close
proximity to humans, tigers will also sometimes prey on such domestic
livestock as cattle, horses, and donkeys. Old or wounded tigers,
unable to catch wild prey, can become man-eaters; this pattern has
recurred frequently across India. An exception is in the Sundarbans,
where healthy tigers prey upon fishermen and villagers in search of
forest produce, humans thereby forming a minor part of the tiger's
diet. Although almost exclusively carnivorous, tigers will
occasionally eat vegetation for dietary fibre such as fruit of the
slow match tree.
Tiger dentition (above) and
Asian black bear
Asian black bear (below). The large
canines make the killing bite; the carnassials tear flesh.
Tigers are thought to be mainly nocturnal predators, but in areas
where humans are typically absent, they have been observed via
remote-controlled, hidden cameras, hunting in daylight. They
generally hunt alone and ambush their prey as most other cats do,
overpowering them from any angle, using their body size and strength
to knock the prey off balance. Successful hunts usually require the
tiger to almost simultaneously leap onto its quarry, knock it over,
and grab the throat or nape with its teeth. Despite their large
size, tigers can reach speeds of about 49–65 km/h
(30–40 mph) but only in short bursts; consequently, tigers must
be close to their prey before they break cover. If the prey catches
wind of the tiger's presence before this, the tiger usually abandons
the hunt rather than chase prey or battle it head-on. Horizontal leaps
of up to 10 m (33 ft) have been reported, although leaps of
around half this distance are more typical. One in 2 to 20 hunts,
including stalking near potential prey, ends in a successful
When hunting larger animals, tigers prefer to bite the throat and use
their powerful forelimbs to hold onto the prey, often simultaneously
wrestling it to the ground. The tiger remains latched onto the neck
until its target dies of strangulation. By this method, gaurs and
water buffaloes weighing over a ton have been killed by tigers
weighing about a sixth as much. Although they can kill healthy
adults, tigers often select the calves or infirm of very large
species. Healthy adult prey of this type can be dangerous to
tackle, as long, strong horns, legs and tusks are all potentially
fatal to the tiger. No other extant land predator routinely takes on
prey this large on their own. Whilst hunting sambars, which
comprise up to 60% of their prey in India, tigers have reportedly made
a passable impersonation of the male sambar's rutting call to attract
With smaller prey, such as monkeys and hares, the tiger bites the
nape, often breaking the spinal cord, piercing the windpipe, or
severing the jugular vein or common carotid artery. Though rarely
observed, some tigers have been recorded to kill prey by swiping with
their paws, which are powerful enough to smash the skulls of domestic
cattle, and break the backs of sloth bears.
During the 1980s, a tiger named "Genghis" in Ranthambhore National
Park was observed frequently hunting prey through deep lake water, a
pattern of behaviour that had not previously been witnessed in over
200 years of observations. Moreover, he appeared to be unusually
successful, with 20% of hunts ending in a kill.
After killing their prey, tigers sometimes drag it to conceal it in
vegetative cover, usually pulling it by grasping with their mouths at
the site of the killing bite. This, too, can require great physical
strength. In one case, after it had killed an adult gaur, a tiger was
observed to drag the massive carcass over a distance of 12 m
(39 ft). When 13 men simultaneously tried to drag the same
carcass later, they were unable to move it. An adult tiger can go
for up to two weeks without eating, then gorge on 34 kg
(75 lb) of flesh at one time. In captivity, adult tigers are fed
3 to 6 kg (6.6 to 13.2 lb) of meat a day.
Enemies and competitors
Tiger hunted by wild dogs (dholes) as illustrated in Samuel Howett
& Edward Orme, Hand Coloured, Aquatint Engravings, 1807
Tigers usually prefer to eat prey they have caught themselves, but are
not above eating carrion in times of scarcity and may even pirate prey
from other large carnivores. Although predators typically avoid one
another, if a prey item is under dispute or a serious competitor is
encountered, displays of aggression are common. If these are not
sufficient, the conflicts may turn violent; tigers may kill
competitors as leopards, dholes, striped hyenas, wolves, bears,
pythons, and crocodiles on occasion. Tigers may also prey on these
competitors. Attacks on smaller
predators, such as badgers, lynxes, and foxes, are almost certainly
predatory. Crocodiles, bears, and large packs of dholes may win
conflicts against tigers and in some cases even kill
The considerably smaller leopard avoids competition from tigers by
hunting at different times of the day and hunting different prey.
In India's Nagarhole National Park, most prey selected by leopards
were from 30 to 175 kg (66 to 386 lb) against a preference
for prey weighing over 176 kg (388 lb) in the tigers. The
average prey weight in the two respective big cats in
37.6 kg (83 lb) against 91.5 kg (202 lb).
With relatively abundant prey, tigers and leopards were seen to
successfully coexist without competitive exclusion or interspecies
dominance hierarchies that may be more common to the African savanna,
where the leopard exists with the lion. Golden jackals may feed
on the tiger's kills.
Tiger cub" redirects here. For other uses, see
Wikimedia Commons has media related to
A Siberian tigress with her cub at the Buffalo Zoo, New York
Two cubs playing with soccer ball at Frankfurt Zoo
Mating can occur all year round, but is more common between November
and April. A female is only receptive for three to six days.
Mating is frequent and noisy during that time.
Gestation ranges from
93 to 112 days, with an average of 103 to 105 days. Litters consist of
one or three cubs, rarely also six. Cubs weigh from 680 to
1,400 g (1.50 to 3.09 lb) each at birth, and are born blind.
Females lactate for five to six months. The females rears them
alone, with the birth site and maternal den in a sheltered location
such as a thicket, cave or rocky crevice. The father generally takes
no part in rearing them. Unrelated wandering male tigers often kill
cubs to make the female receptive, since the tigress may give birth to
another litter within five months if the cubs of the previous litter
are lost. The mortality rate of tiger cubs is about 50% in the first
two years. Few other predators attack tiger cubs due to the
diligence and ferocity of the mother. Apart from humans and other
tigers, common causes of cub mortality are starvation, freezing, and
A dominant cub emerges in most litters, usually a male. This cub
is more active than its siblings and takes the lead in their play,
eventually leaving its mother and becoming independent earlier. The
cubs open their eyes at six to fourteen days old. By eight weeks, the
cubs make short ventures outside the den with their mother, although
they do not travel with her as she roams her territory until they are
older. The cubs are nursed for three to six months. Around the time
they are weaned, they start to accompany their mother on territorial
walks and they are taught how to hunt. The cubs often become capable
(and nearly adult size) hunters at eleven months old. The cubs become
independent around eighteen months of age, but it is not until they
are around two to two and a half years old that they fully separate
from their mother. Females reach sexual maturity at three to four
years, whereas males do so at four to five years. The oldest recorded
captive tiger lived for 26 years. A wild specimen, having no natural
predators, could in theory live to a comparable age.
Major threats to the tiger include habitat destruction, habitat
fragmentation and poaching for fur and body parts, which have
simultaneously greatly reduced tiger populations in the wild In
India, only 11% of the historical tiger habitat remains due to habitat
fragmentation. Demand for tiger parts for use in traditional
Chinese medicine has also been cited as a major threat to tiger
Commercial hunting and traditional medicine
A hunting party poses with a killed Javan tiger, 1941
Historically, tigers have been hunted at a large scale so their famous
striped skins could be collected. The trade in tiger skins peaked in
the 1960s, just before international conservation efforts took effect.
By 1977, a tiger skin in an English market was considered to be worth
Many people in
China and other parts of
Asia have a belief that
various tiger parts have medicinal properties, including as pain
killers and aphrodisiacs. There is no scientific evidence to
support these beliefs. The use of tiger parts in pharmaceutical drugs
China is already banned, and the government has made some offences
in connection with tiger poaching punishable by death.[which?]
Furthermore, all trade in tiger parts is illegal under the Convention
on International Trade in Endangered
Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
and a domestic trade ban has been in place in
China since 1993.
However, the trading of tiger parts in
Asia has become a major black
market industry and governmental and conservation attempts to stop it
have been ineffective to date. Almost all black marketers engaged
in the trade are based in
China and have either been shipped and sold
within in their own country or into Taiwan,
South Korea or Japan.
The Chinese subspecies was almost completely decimated by killing for
commerce due to both the parts and skin trades in the 1950s through
the 1970s. Contributing to the illegal trade, there are a number
of tiger farms in the country specialising in breeding the cats for
profit. It is estimated that between 5,000 and 10,000 captive-bred,
semi-tame animals live in these farms today. However,
many tigers for traditional medicine black market are wild ones shot
or snared by poachers and may be caught anywhere in the tiger's
remaining range (from
India to the
Malay Peninsula to
Sumatra). In the Asian black market, a tiger penis can be worth the
equivalent of around $300 U.S. dollars. In the years of 1990 through
1992, 27 million products with tiger derivatives were found. In
July 2014 at an international convention on endangered species in
Geneva, Switzerland, a Chinese representative admitted for the first
time his government was aware trading in tiger skins was occurring in
Tiger population status (2016)
At the start of the 20th century, it was estimated there were over
100,000 tigers in the wild, but the population has dwindled outside of
captivity to between 1,500 and 3,500. Some estimates suggest
that there are fewer than 2,500 mature breeding individuals, with no
subpopulation containing more than 250 mature breeding individuals.
The global wild tiger population was estimated by the World Wide Fund
for Nature at 3,200 in 2011 and 3,890 in 2015—Vox reported that this
was the first increase in a century.
India is home to the world's largest population of wild tigers. A
2014 census estimated a population of 2,226, a 30% increase since
2011. In 1973, India's Project Tiger, started by Indira Gandhi,
established over 25 tiger reserves in reclaimed land, where human
development was forbidden. The project was credited with tripling the
number of wild
Bengal tigers from some 1,200 in 1973 to over 3,500 in
the 1990s, but a 2007 census showed that numbers had dropped back to
about 1,400 tigers because of poaching. Following the report, the
Indian government pledged $153 million to the initiative, set up
measures to combat poaching, promised funds to relocate up to 200,000
villagers in order to reduce human-tiger interactions, and set up
eight new tiger reserves.
India also reintroduced tigers to the
Tiger Reserve and by 2009 it was claimed that poaching
had been effectively countered at Ranthambore National Park.
In the 1940s, the
Siberian tiger was on the brink of extinction with
only about 40 animals remaining in the wild in Russia. As a result,
anti-poaching controls were put in place by the
Soviet Union and a
network of protected zones (zapovedniks) were instituted, leading to a
rise in the population to several hundred.
Poaching again became a
problem in the 1990s, when the economy of
Russia collapsed. The major
obstacle in preserving the species is the enormous territory
individual tigers require (up to 450 km2 needed by a single
female and more for a single male). Current conservation efforts
are led by local governments and NGO's in concert with international
organisations, such as the
World Wide Fund for Nature
World Wide Fund for Nature and the Wildlife
Conservation Society. The competitive exclusion of wolves by
tigers has been used by Russian conservationists to convince hunters
to tolerate the big cats. Tigers have less impact on ungulate
populations than do wolves, and are effective in controlling the
latter's numbers. In 2005, there were thought to be about 360
animals in Russia, though these exhibited little genetic
diversity. However, in a decade later, the
Siberian tiger census
was estimated from 480 to 540 individuals.
Camera trap image of wild Sumatran tiger
Having earlier rejected the Western-led environmentalist movement,
China changed its stance in the 1980s and became a party to the CITES
treaty. By 1993 it had banned the trade in tiger parts, and this
diminished the use of tiger bones in traditional Chinese
medicine. After this, the Tibetan people's trade in tiger skins
became a relatively more important threat to tigers. The pelts were
used in clothing, tiger-skin chuba being worn by singers and
participants in horse racing festivals, and had become status symbols.
In 2004, international conservation organizations launched successful
environmental propaganda campaigns in
China against the Tibetan tiger
skin trade. There was outrage in India, where many Tibetans live, and
14th Dalai Lama
14th Dalai Lama was persuaded to take up the issue. Since then
there has been a change of attitude, with some Tibetans publicly
burning their chubas.
In 1994, the Indonesian Sumatran
Tiger Conservation Strategy addressed
the potential crisis that tigers faced in Sumatra. The Sumatran Tiger
Project (STP) was initiated in June 1995 in and around the Way Kambas
National Park in order to ensure the long-term viability of wild
Sumatran tigers and to accumulate data on tiger life-history
characteristics vital for the management of wild populations. By
August 1999, the teams of the STP had evaluated 52 sites of potential
tiger habitat in Lampung Province, of which only 15 these were intact
enough to contain tigers. In the framework of the STP a
community-based conservation programme was initiated to document the
tiger-human dimension in the park in order to enable conservation
authorities to resolve tiger-human conflicts based on a comprehensive
database rather than anecdotes and opinions.
Wildlife Conservation Society and
Panthera Corporation formed the
collaboration Tigers Forever, with field sites including the world's
largest tiger reserve, the 21,756 km2 (8,400 sq mi)
Hukaung Valley in Myanmar. Other reserves were in the
Western Ghats in
India, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, the Russian Far East covering in
total about 260,000 km2 (100,000 sq mi).
Tigers have been studied in the wild using a variety of techniques.
Tiger population have been estimated using plaster casts of their
pugmarks, although this method was criticized as being
inaccurate. More recent techniques include the use of camera
traps and studies of
DNA from tiger scat, while radio-collaring has
been used to track tigers in the wild.
Tiger spray has been found
to be just as good, or better, as a source of
DNA than scat.
The exact number of wild tigers is unknown, as many estimates are
outdated or educated guesses; few estimates are based on reliable
scientific censuses. The table shows estimates according to
List accounts and range country governments dating from 2009 to April
Rewilding and reintroduction projects
Further information: Rewilding (conservation biology), Save China's
Tigers, Reintroduction, and Siberian
Tiger Introduction Project
In 1978, the Indian conservationist
Billy Arjan Singh
Billy Arjan Singh attempted to
rewild a tiger in Dudhwa National Park; this was the captive-bred
tigress Tara. Soon after the release, numerous people were killed
and eaten by a tigress that was subsequently shot. Government
officials claimed it was Tara, though Singh disputed this. Further
controversy broke out with the discovery that Tara was partly Siberian
South China tiger
South China tiger hunting blesbok in South Africa
Save China's Tigers
Save China's Tigers has attempted to rewild the South
China tigers, with a breeding and training programme in a South
African reserve known as
Laohu Valley Reserve
Laohu Valley Reserve (LVR) and eventually
reintroduce them to the wild of China.
A future rewilding project was proposed for Siberian tigers set to be
reintroduced to northern Russia's
Pleistocene park. The Siberian
tigers sent to
Iran for a captive breeding project in Tehran are set
to be rewilded and reintroduced to the Miankaleh peninsula, to replace
the now extinct Caspian tigers.
Tigers made to perform at
Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey
In Ancient Roman times, tigers were kept in menageries and
amphitheatres to be exhibited, trained and paraded, and were often
provoked to fight humans and exotic beasts. Since the 17th
century, tigers, being rare and ferocious, were sought after to keep
at European castles as symbols of their owners' power. Tigers
became central zoo and circus exhibits in the 18th century: a tiger
could cost up to 4,000 francs in France (for comparison, a professor
of the Beaux-Arts at Lyons earned only 3,000 francs a year), or
up to $3,500 in the United States where a lion cost no more than
China (2007) had over 4,000 captive tigers, of which 3,000 were held
by about twenty larger facilities, with the rest held by some 200
smaller facilities. The USA (2011) had 2,884 tigers in 468
facilities. Nineteen states have banned private ownership of
tigers, fifteen require a license, and sixteen states have no
Genetic ancestry of 105 captive tigers from fourteen
countries and regions showed that forty-nine animals belonged
distinctly to five subspecies; fifty-two animals had mixed subspecies
origins. As such, "many Siberian tigers in zoos today are
actually the result of crosses with
Species Survival Plan has condemned the breeding of white
tigers, alleging they are of mixed ancestry and of unknown lineage.
The genes responsible for white colouration are represented by 0.001%
of the population. The disproportionate growth in numbers of white
tigers points to inbreeding among homozygous recessive individuals.
This would lead to inbreeding depression and loss of genetic
Relation with humans
Tiger hunting on elephant-back, India, 1808
The tiger has been one of the big five game animals of Asia. Tiger
hunting took place on a large scale in the early 19th and 20th
centuries, being a recognised and admired sport by the British in
India as well as the maharajas and aristocratic class of the
erstwhile princely states of pre-independence India. A single maharaja
or English hunter could claim to kill over a hundred tigers in their
Tiger hunting was done by some hunters on foot;
others sat up on machans with a goat or buffalo tied out as bait; yet
others on elephant-back.
Wild tigers that have had no prior contact with humans actively avoid
interactions with humans. However, tigers cause more human deaths
through direct attack than any other wild mammal. Attacks are
occasionally provoked, as tigers lash out after being injured while
they themselves are hunted. Attacks can be provoked accidentally, as
when a human surprises a tiger or inadvertently comes between a mother
and her young, or as in a case in rural
India when a postman
startled a tiger, used to seeing him on foot, by riding a
bicycle. Occasionally tigers come to view people as prey. Such
attacks are most common in areas where population growth, logging, and
farming have put pressure on tiger habitats and reduced their wild
prey. Most man-eating tigers are old, missing teeth, and unable to
capture their preferred prey. For example, the Champawat Tiger, a
tigress found in
Nepal and then India, had two broken canines. She was
responsible for an estimated 430 human deaths, the most attacks known
to be perpetrated by a single wild animal, by the time she was shot in
1907 by Jim Corbett. According to Corbett, tiger attacks on humans
are normally in daytime, when people are working outdoors and are not
keeping watch. Early writings tend to describe man-eating tigers
as cowardly because of their ambush tactics.
Stereographic photograph (1903), captioned "Famous 'man-eater' at
Calcutta—devoured 200 men, women and children before
Man-eaters have been a particular problem in recent decades in India
and Bangladesh, especially in Kumaon, Garhwal and the Sundarbans
mangrove swamps of Bengal, where some healthy tigers have hunted
humans. Because of rapid habitat loss attributed to climate change,
tiger attacks have increased in the Sundarbans. The Sundarbans
area had 129 human deaths from tigers from 1969 to 1971. In the 10
years prior to that period, about 100 attacks per year in the
Sundarbans, with a high of around 430 in some years of the 1960s.
Unusually, in some years in the Sundarbans, more humans are killed by
tigers than vice versa. In 1972, India's production of honey and
beeswax dropped by 50% when at least 29 people who gathered these
materials were devoured. In 1986 in the Sundarbans, since tigers
almost always attack from the rear, masks with human faces were worn
on the back of the head, on the theory that tigers usually do not
attack if seen by their prey. This decreased the number of attacks
only temporarily. All other means to prevent attacks, such as
providing more prey or using electrified human dummies, worked less
At least 27 people were killed or seriously injured by captive tigers
in the United States from 1998 to 2001.
In some cases, rather than being predatory, tiger attacks on human
seem to be territorial in nature. At least in one case, a tigress with
cubs killed eight people entering her territory without consuming them
Tigers and their superlative qualities have been a source of
fascination for mankind since ancient times, and they are routinely
visible as important cultural and media motifs. They are also
considered one of the charismatic megafauna, and are used as the face
of conservation campaigns worldwide. In a 2004 online poll conducted
by cable television channel
Animal Planet, involving more than 50,000
viewers from 73 countries, the tiger was voted the world's favourite
animal with 21% of the vote, narrowly beating the dog.
In myth and legend
The Hindu goddess
Durga riding a tiger. Guler school, early 18th
In Chinese myth and culture, the tiger is one of the 12 animals of the
Chinese zodiac. In Chinese art, the tiger is depicted as an earth
symbol and equal rival of the
Chinese dragon – the two representing
matter and spirit respectively. The Southern Chinese martial art Hung
Ga is based on the movements of the tiger and the crane. In Imperial
China, a tiger was the personification of war and often represented
the highest army general (or present day defense secretary),
while the emperor and empress were represented by a dragon and
phoenix, respectively. The White
Tiger (Chinese: 白虎; pinyin: Bái
Hǔ) is one of the Four Symbols of the Chinese constellations. It is
sometimes called the White
Tiger of the
West (西方白虎), and it
represents the west and the autumn season.
The tiger's tail appears in stories from countries including
Korea, it being generally inadvisable to grasp a tiger by the
In Buddhism, the tiger is one of the Three Senseless Creatures,
symbolising anger, with the monkey representing greed and the deer
Tungusic peoples considered the Siberian tiger
a near-deity and often referred to it as "Grandfather" or "Old man".
The Udege and Nanai called it "Amba". The Manchu considered the
Siberian tiger as "Hu Lin," the king. In Hinduism, the god Shiva
wears and sits on tiger skin. The ten-armed warrior goddess Durga
rides the tigress (or lioness) Damon into battle. In southern India
Ayyappan was associated with a tiger.
The weretiger replaces the werewolf in shapeshifting folklore in
India they were evil sorcerers, while in
Malaysia they were somewhat more benign. In the Hindu epic
Mahabharata, tigers are fiercer and more ruthless than lions.
In literature, art and film
Bengal tiger § Literature
William Blake's first printing of The Tyger, c. 1795
In William Blake's poem in the Songs of Experience, titled "The
Tyger," the tiger is a menacing and fearful animal. In Yann Martel's
Man Booker Prize
Man Booker Prize winning novel Life of Pi, the protagonist,
surviving shipwreck for months in a small boat, somehow avoids being
eaten by the other survivor, a large
Bengal tiger. The story was
adapted in Ang Lee's 2012 feature film of the same name. Jim Corbett's
Man-Eaters of Kumaon
Man-Eaters of Kumaon tells ten true stories of his tiger-hunting
exploits in what is now the northern
Uttarakhand region of India. The
book has sold over four million copies, and has been the basis of
both fictional and documentary films. In Rudyard Kipling's 1894 The
Jungle Book, the tiger, Shere Khan, is the mortal enemy of the human
protagonist, Mowgli; the book has formed the basis of both live-action
and animated films. Other tiger characters aimed at children tend to
be more benign, as for instance
Tigger in A. A. Milne's
Winnie-the-Pooh and Hobbes of the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes, both
of whom are represented as simply stuffed animals come to life.
Tiger are also mascots for various sports teams around the world. Tony
Tiger is a famous mascot for
Kellogg's breakfast cereal Frosted
Flakes. The Esso (Exxon) brand of petrol was advertised from 1969
onwards with the slogan 'put a tiger in your tank', and a tiger
mascot; more than 2.5 million synthetic tiger tails were sold to
motorists, who tied them to their petrol tank caps.
The tiger appears in heraldry but is distinct from the heraldic beast
tyger, a wolflike, snouted creature which has its roots in European
An early silver coin of king
Uttama Chola found in
Sri Lanka shows the
Tiger sitting between the emblems of
Pandyan and Chera
The tiger is one of the animals displayed on the Pashupati seal of the
Indus Valley Civilisation. The tiger was the emblem of the Chola
Dynasty and was depicted on coins, seals and banners. The seals
of several Chola copper coins show the tiger, the
Pandyan emblem fish
Chera emblem bow, indicating that the Cholas had achieved
political supremacy over the latter two dynasties. Gold coins found in
Kavilayadavalli in the
Nellore district of
Andhra Pradesh have motifs
of the tiger, bow and some indistinct marks. The tiger symbol of
Chola Empire was later adopted by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam
and the tiger became a symbol of the unrecognised state of Tamil Eelam
and Tamil independence movement.
Bengal tiger is the national animal of
India and Bangladesh.
The Malaysian tiger is the national animal of Malaysia. The
Siberian tiger is the national animal of South Korea. Since the
successful economies of South Korea, Taiwan,
Hong Kong and Singapore
were described as the Four Asian Tigers, a tiger economy is a metaphor
for a nation in rapid development.
Extinct and Endangered
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Wikiquote has quotations related to: Tigers
Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
Panthera tigris (category)
Wikispecies has information related to
Species portrait Tiger; IUCN/SSC
Cat Specialist Group
Biodiversity Heritage Library bibliography for
Tiger images on postage stamps from many different
Year of the tiger. Video collection on occasion of the Year of the
Tiger, 2010. BBC.
Video clips. BBC archive on
"Is this the last chance to save the tiger?". 19 November 2010. By
Pralad Yonzon. The Kathmandu Post.
Tale of the
Cat at the
Wayback Machine (archived 26 February 2010). 1
March 2010. By Andrew Marshall. TIME Magazine
"India's tiger population increases by 30% in past three years;
country now has 2,226 tigers". 20 January 2015. By Vishwa Mohan. Times
of India. Retrieved 17 July 2016.
African palm civet
African palm civet (N. binotata)
Marsh mongoose (A. paludinosus)
Bushy-tailed mongoose (B. crassicauda)
Jackson's mongoose (B. jacksoni)
Black-footed mongoose (B. nigripes)
Alexander's kusimanse (C. alexandri)
Angolan kusimanse (C. ansorgei)
Common kusimanse (C. obscurus)
Flat-headed kusimanse (C. platycephalus)
Yellow mongoose (C. penicillata)
Pousargues's mongoose (D. dybowskii)
Angolan slender mongoose
Angolan slender mongoose (G. flavescens)
Black mongoose (G. nigrata)
Somalian slender mongoose
Somalian slender mongoose (G. ochracea)
Cape gray mongoose
Cape gray mongoose (G. pulverulenta)
Slender mongoose (G. sanguinea)
Ethiopian dwarf mongoose
Ethiopian dwarf mongoose (H. hirtula)
Common dwarf mongoose
Common dwarf mongoose (H. parvula)
Short-tailed mongoose (H. brachyurus)
Indian gray mongoose
Indian gray mongoose (H. edwardsii)
Indian brown mongoose
Indian brown mongoose (H. fuscus)
Egyptian mongoose (H. ichneumon)
Small Asian mongoose
Small Asian mongoose (H. javanicus)
Long-nosed mongoose (H. naso)
Collared mongoose (H. semitorquatus)
Ruddy mongoose (H. smithii)
Crab-eating mongoose (H. urva)
Stripe-necked mongoose (H. vitticollis)
White-tailed mongoose (I. albicauda)
Liberian mongoose (L. kuhni)
Gambian mongoose (M. gambianus)
Banded mongoose (M. mungo)
Selous' mongoose (P. selousi)
Meller's mongoose (R. melleri)
Meerkat (S. suricatta)
Spotted hyena (C. crocuta)
Brown hyena (H. brunnea)
Striped hyena (H. hyaena)
Aardwolf (P. cristatus)
Large family listed below
Large family listed below
Small family listed below
Cheetah (A. jubatus)
Caracal (C. caracal)
African golden cat
African golden cat (C. aurata)
Bay cat (C. badia)
Asian golden cat
Asian golden cat (C. temminckii)
European wildcat (F. silvestris)
African wildcat (F. lybica)
Jungle cat (F. chaus)
Black-footed cat (F. nigripes)
Sand cat (F. margarita)
Chinese mountain cat
Chinese mountain cat (F. bieti)
Domestic cat (F. catus)
Ocelot (L. pardalis)
Margay (L. wiedii)
Pampas cat (L. colocola)
Geoffroy's cat (L. geoffroyi)
Kodkod (L. guigna)
Andean mountain cat
Andean mountain cat (L. jacobita)
Oncilla (L. tigrinus)
Southern tigrina (L. guttulus)
Serval (L. serval)
Canadian lynx (L. canadensis)
Eurasian lynx (L. lynx)
Iberian lynx (L. pardinus)
Bobcat (L. rufus)
Pallas's cat (O. manul)
Marbled cat (P. marmorata)
Fishing cat (P. viverrinus)
Leopard cat (P. bengalensis)
Sundaland leopard cat (P. javanensis)
Flat-headed cat (P. planiceps)
Rusty-spotted cat (P. rubiginosus)
Cougar (P. concolor)
Jaguarundi (H. yagouaroundi)
Lion (P. leo)
Jaguar (P. onca)
Leopard (P. pardus)
Tiger (P. tigris)
Snow leopard (P. uncia)
Clouded leopard (N. nebulosa)
Sunda clouded leopard
Sunda clouded leopard (N. diardi)
Viverridae (includes Civets)
Binturong (A. binturong)
Small-toothed palm civet
Small-toothed palm civet (A. trivirgata)
Sulawesi palm civet
Sulawesi palm civet (M. musschenbroekii)
Masked palm civet
Masked palm civet (P. larvata)
Golden wet-zone palm civet (P. aureus)
Asian palm civet
Asian palm civet (P. hermaphroditus)
Jerdon's palm civet (P. jerdoni)
Golden palm civet
Golden palm civet (P. zeylonensis)
Owston's palm civet
Owston's palm civet (C. owstoni)
Otter civet (C. bennettii)
Hose's palm civet
Hose's palm civet (D. hosei)
Banded palm civet
Banded palm civet (H. derbyanus)
Banded linsang (P. linsang)
Spotted linsang (P. pardicolor)
African civet (C. civetta)
Abyssinian genet (G. abyssinica)
Angolan genet (G. angolensis)
Bourlon's genet (G. bourloni)
Crested servaline genet
Crested servaline genet (G. cristata)
Common genet (G. genetta)
Johnston's genet (G. johnstoni)
Rusty-spotted genet (G. maculata)
Pardine genet (G. pardina)
Aquatic genet (G. piscivora)
King genet (G. poensis)
Servaline genet (G. servalina)
Haussa genet (G. thierryi)
Cape genet (G. tigrina)
Giant forest genet
Giant forest genet (G. victoriae)
African linsang (P. richardsonii)
Leighton's linsang (P. leightoni)
Malabar large-spotted civet
Malabar large-spotted civet (V. civettina)
Large-spotted civet (V. megaspila)
Malayan civet (V. tangalunga)
Large Indian civet
Large Indian civet (V. zibetha)
Small Indian civet
Small Indian civet (V. indica)
Fossa (C. ferox)
Eastern falanouc (E. goudotii)
Western falanouc (E. major)
Malagasy civet (F. fossana)
Ring-tailed mongoose (G. elegans)
Broad-striped Malagasy mongoose
Broad-striped Malagasy mongoose (G. fasciata)
Grandidier's mongoose (G. grandidieri)
Narrow-striped mongoose (M. decemlineata)
Brown-tailed mongoose (S. concolor)
Durrell's vontsira (S. durrelli)
Caniformia (cont. below)
Giant panda (A. melanoleuca)
Sun bear (H. malayanus)
Sloth bear (M. ursinus)
Spectacled bear (T. ornatus)
American black bear
American black bear (U. americanus)
Brown bear (U. arctos)
Polar bear (U. maritimus)
Asian black bear
Asian black bear (U. thibetanus)
Molina's hog-nosed skunk
Molina's hog-nosed skunk (C. chinga)
Humboldt's hog-nosed skunk
Humboldt's hog-nosed skunk (C. humboldtii)
American hog-nosed skunk
American hog-nosed skunk (C. leuconotus)
Striped hog-nosed skunk
Striped hog-nosed skunk (C. semistriatus)
Hooded skunk (M. macroura)
Striped skunk (M. mephitis)
Sunda stink badger
Sunda stink badger (M. javanensis)
Palawan stink badger (M. marchei)
Southern spotted skunk
Southern spotted skunk (S. angustifrons)
Western spotted skunk
Western spotted skunk (S. gracilis)
Eastern spotted skunk
Eastern spotted skunk (S. putorius)
Pygmy spotted skunk
Pygmy spotted skunk (S. pygmaea)
Eastern lowland olingo
Eastern lowland olingo (B. alleni)
Northern olingo (B. gabbii)
Western lowland olingo
Western lowland olingo (B. medius)
Olinguito (B. neblina)
Ring-tailed cat (B. astutus)
Cacomistle (B. sumichrasti)
White-nosed coati (N. narica)
South American coati
South American coati (N. nasua)
Western mountain coati (N. olivacea)
Eastern mountain coati (N. meridensis)
Kinkajou (P. flavus)
Crab-eating raccoon (P. cancrivorus)
Raccoon (P. lotor)
Cozumel raccoon (P. pygmaeus)
Red panda (A. fulgens)
Caniformia (cont. above)
(includes fur seals
and sea lions)
South American fur seal
South American fur seal (A. australis)
Australasian fur seal (A. forsteri)
Galápagos fur seal
Galápagos fur seal (A. galapagoensis)
Antarctic fur seal
Antarctic fur seal (A. gazella)
Juan Fernández fur seal
Juan Fernández fur seal (A. philippii)
Brown fur seal
Brown fur seal (A. pusillus)
Guadalupe fur seal
Guadalupe fur seal (A. townsendi)
Subantarctic fur seal
Subantarctic fur seal (A. tropicalis)
Northern fur seal
Northern fur seal (C. ursinus)
Steller sea lion
Steller sea lion (E. jubatus)
Australian sea lion
Australian sea lion (N. cinerea)
South American sea lion
South American sea lion (O. flavescens)
New Zealand sea lion
New Zealand sea lion (P. hookeri)
California sea lion
California sea lion (Z. californianus)
Galápagos sea lion
Galápagos sea lion (Z. wollebaeki)
Walrus (O. rosmarus)
Hooded seal (C. cristata)
Bearded seal (E. barbatus)
Gray seal (H. grypus)
Ribbon seal (H. fasciata)
Leopard seal (H. leptonyx)
Weddell seal (L. weddellii)
Crabeater seal (L. carcinophagus)
Northern elephant seal
Northern elephant seal (M. angustirostris)
Southern elephant seal
Southern elephant seal (M. leonina)
Mediterranean monk seal
Mediterranean monk seal (M. monachus)
Hawaiian monk seal
Hawaiian monk seal (M. schauinslandi)
Ross seal (O. rossi)
Harp seal (P. groenlandicus)
Spotted seal (P. largha)
Harbor seal (P. vitulina)
Caspian seal (P. caspica)
Ringed seal (P. hispida)
Baikal seal (P. sibirica)
Large family listed below
Large family listed below
Canidae (includes dogs)
Short-eared dog (A. microtis)
Side-striped jackal (C. adustus)
African golden wolf
African golden wolf (C. anthus)
Golden jackal (C. aureus)
Coyote (C. latrans)
Gray wolf (C. lupus)
Black-backed jackal (C. mesomelas)
Red wolf (C. rufus)
Ethiopian wolf (C. simensis)
Crab-eating fox (C. thous)
Maned wolf (C. brachyurus)
Dhole (C. alpinus)
Culpeo (L. culpaeus)
Darwin's fox (L. fulvipes)
South American gray fox
South American gray fox (L. griseus)
Pampas fox (L. gymnocercus)
Sechuran fox (L. sechurae)
Hoary fox (L. vetulus)
African wild dog
African wild dog (L. pictus)
Raccoon dog (N. procyonoides)
Bat-eared fox (O. megalotis)
Bush dog (S. venaticus)
Gray fox (U. cinereoargenteus)
Island fox (U. littoralis)
Bengal fox (V. bengalensis)
Blanford's fox (V. cana)
Cape fox (V. chama)
Corsac fox (V. corsac)
Tibetan sand fox
Tibetan sand fox (V. ferrilata)
Arctic fox (V. lagopus)
Kit fox (V. macrotis)
Pale fox (V. pallida)
Rüppell's fox (V. rueppelli)
Swift fox (V. velox)
Red fox (V. vulpes)
Fennec fox (V. zerda)
African clawless otter
African clawless otter (A. capensis)
Oriental small-clawed otter (A. cinerea)
Sea otter (E. lutris)
Spotted-necked otter (H. maculicollis)
North American river otter
North American river otter (L. canadensis)
Marine otter (L. felina)
Neotropical otter (L. longicaudis)
Southern river otter
Southern river otter (L. provocax)
Eurasian otter (L. lutra)
Hairy-nosed otter (L. sumatrana)
Smooth-coated otter (L. perspicillata)
Giant otter (P. brasiliensis)
Hog badger (A. collaris)
Tayra (E. barbara)
Lesser grison (G. cuja)
Greater grison (G. vittata)
Wolverine (G. gulo)
Saharan striped polecat
Saharan striped polecat (I. libyca)
Striped polecat (I. striatus)
Patagonian weasel (L. patagonicus)
American marten (M. americana)
Yellow-throated marten (M. flavigula)
Beech marten (M. foina)
Nilgiri marten (M. gwatkinsii)
European pine marten
European pine marten (M. martes)
Japanese marten (M. melampus)
Sable (M. zibellina)
Fisher (P. pennanti)
Japanese badger (M. anakuma)
Asian badger (M. leucurus)
European badger (M. meles)
Honey badger (M. capensis)
Bornean ferret-badger (M. everetti)
Chinese ferret-badger (M. moschata)
Javan ferret-badger (M. orientalis)
Burmese ferret-badger (M. personata)
(Weasels and Ferrets)
Amazon weasel (M. africana)
Mountain weasel (M. altaica)
Stoat (M. erminea)
Steppe polecat (M. eversmannii)
Colombian weasel (M. felipei)
Long-tailed weasel (M. frenata)
Japanese weasel (M. itatsi)
Yellow-bellied weasel (M. kathiah)
European mink (M. lutreola)
Indonesian mountain weasel
Indonesian mountain weasel (M. lutreolina)
Black-footed ferret (M. nigripes)
Least weasel (M. nivalis)
Malayan weasel (M. nudipes)
European polecat (M. putorius)
Siberian weasel (M. sibirica)
Back-striped weasel (M. strigidorsa)
Egyptian weasel (M. subpalmata)
American mink (N. vison)
African striped weasel
African striped weasel (P. albinucha)
American badger (T. taxus)
Marbled polecat (V. peregusna)
BNF: cb11933675r (d