Siberian Tiger

Scientific name: Panthera tigris altaica

Siberian Tiger - Panthera tigris altaica
Siberian Tiger - Panthera tigris altaica. Photo © China Photos / Getty Images.

The Siberian tiger (Panthera tigris altaica), also known as the Amur tiger, is the largest of all the tiger subspecies. They are also the largest of all species of cats alive today. Siberian tigers have a reddish-orange coat that is richer in color on their back and fades to white on their face and belly. Siberian tigers have dark brown, vertical stripes that cover its flanks and shoulders. The fur of the Siberian tiger is thicker and longer than the other tiger subspecies.

This thick coat is an adaptation to the extreme cold, montane habitat in which Siberian tigers live.

Siberian tigers are a critically endangered cat that is listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Siberian tiger populations declined greatly in the 1940s when the came precariously close to extinction. At that time, there were as few as 40 tigers that remained living in the wild. Since then, the Siberian tiger population has rebounded modestly. Although the subspecies remains critically endangered, its numbers are now higher. More recent estimates indicate that the Siberian population is stable and consists of between 431 to 529 individuals.

The Siberian tiger's range extends throughout the far south-east of Russia and runs astride the borders of China and North Korea. The range of the Siberian tiger is bounded on the west by the Sea of Japan. Siberian tigers inhabit birch forests throughout their range.

The climate in this region is harsh but human populations are sparse so the habitat remains quite well intact.

Today, there are five living subspecies of tigers. These include the Siberian tiger, Bengal tiger, Indochinese tiger, Malayan tiger, South China Tiger, and the Sumatran tiger. Siberian tigers, like all tigers, are solitary hunters that establish and protect a territory in which they hunt.

They feed on a variety of prey such as elk, wild boar, moose, red deer, and smaller animals including fish, hares, pikas, and rabbits.

Siberian tigers play an important role in the ecosystems in which they live. They prey on ungualtes and even on other carnivores such as brown bears and in doing so influence the population dynamics of many other species in their habitat.

Siberian tigers face a variety of threats including low genetic diversity, and poaching. In the past, human land use and other disturbance caused tiger populations to decline. During the Russian Civil War, tigers were killed and their numbers dropped nearly to extinction.

Classification

Carnivores are classified within the following taxonomic hierarchy:

Animals > Chordates > Vertebrates > Tetrapods > Amniotes > Mammals > Carnivores > Tiger > Siberian Tiger

References

Hickman C, Roberts L, Keen S, Larson A, l'Anson H, Eisenhour D. Animal Diversity. 6th ed. Boston MA: McGraw-Hill; 2012. 479 p.