Tiger banner video background © WWF / Stephen Hogg

© WWF / Stephen Hogg

Tiger

Many cultures revere the tiger as a symbol of strength and courage. It's easy to see why.

The largest of all cat species has four-inch retractable claws, powerful jaws and muscular legs that enable it to bring down prey more than twice its size. In high grass, camouflaged by its unique pattern of stripes, a stalking tiger is poetry in motion. It moves with deliberate ease and economy, raising and lowering each paw ever so gently and quietly, before unleashing its full ferocity in a final burst of speed and deadly lunge.

However, these days the tiger itself is more often the victim. Of the nine subspecies that once occurred, three are now extinct and all six that remain are endangered. Just 3,890 tigers are thought to remain in the wild, mostly in fragmented forests stretching from India to northeast China and from the Russian Far East to Sumatra. And declining habitat is a major impediment to an animal that needs a home range of as much as 400 square kilometres where prey is scarce.

What We're doing

See our projects on the tiger.

 

Close up photo of tiger\

Why it matters 

In saving tigers, we also save the biologically rich and diverse landscapes in which they still roam – Asia’s last great rainforests, jungles and wild lands. These forests are home to thousands of other species, people and the food, freshwater and flood protection that local communities need to survive.

Over the past century, tiger numbers have fallen by about 95% and they now survive in 40% less of the area they occupied just a decade ago. Although mostly solitary, tigers need a large territory, the size of which is determined mostly by the availability of prey.

 

Tracking tiger populations and understanding the threats they face is absolutely vital to protecting these magnificent big cats. They face daily hazards from poaching and habitat loss. Every part of the tiger — from its whisker to its tail — is also traded in illegal wildlife markets, feeding a multi-billion dollar criminal network.

Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) walking © naturepl.com / Ewin Giesbers / WWF

Panthera tigris

Species Bio

Common Name

Tiger

Scientific Name

Panthera tigris

Stats

Tiger subspecies vary in their size and colour. Males of the largest subspecies, the Amur (Siberian) tiger, can weigh up to 300 kilograms. Males of the smallest subspecies – the Sumatran tiger – are lucky to reach half that size.

Status

Listed as Endangered (IUCN Red List).

 

Although individual tigers do not patrol their territories, they visit them over a period of days or weeks and mark their domain with urine and faeces.

 

Did you know?

Females give birth to litters of one to four cubs. Cubs cannot hunt until they are 18 months old and remain with their mothers for two to three years, when they disperse to find their own territory.

Threats

The challenges they face

  • Poaching
  • Landclearing and deforestation
  • Poaching
    The most immediate threat to wild tigers is poaching. Their body parts are in relentless demand for traditional medicine and are status symbols within some Asian cultures. The resources for guarding protected areas where tigers live are usually limited. Even countries that strongly enforce tiger protection laws fight a never-ending battle against poaching. In Indochina and China, poaching is so pervasive that many forests are now without tigers.

    Tiger-human conflict
    People and tigers increasingly compete for space. The conflict threatens the world’s remaining wild tigers and poses a major problem for communities living in or near them. As forests shrink and prey becomes scarce, tigers are forced to hunt domestic livestock, which many local communities depend on for their livelihoods. In retaliation, tigers are killed or captured. Community dependence on forests for fuel wood, food and timber also heightens the risk of tiger attacks on people. ‘Conflict’ tigers are commonly sold on the black market.

    Habitat loss
    Tigers have lost 93% of their historical range. Their habitat has been destroyed, degraded and fragmented by human activities. The clearing of forests for agriculture and timber as well as the building of roads and other development activities pose serious threats to tiger habitats. Fewer tigers can survive in small, scattered islands of habitat, which leads to a higher risk of inbreeding and makes tigers more vulnerable to poaching.

    WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP 

    Symbolically adopt a tiger through WWF and your donation will support WWF’s conservation efforts, including the protection of tigers.

    Don’t buy anything containing tiger parts.

    Try to buy forest-friendly products, like certified paper and wood products, certified sustainable palm oil and sustainable coffee.

    Spread the #doubletigers message: post, tweet, subscribe and share our Tx2 news.

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    © Sian Breen / WWF-Aus

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