Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sumatran Tiger

So to carry on with my unofficial theme of "cool animals I saw in California Zoos" we come to the Sumatran Tiger. This subspecies is found only on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, and is the smallest of all the extant tigers. For a quick size comparison- the Siberian, or Amur Tiger, the largest of the subspecies, can weigh as much as 475lbs. The Sumatran only reaches around 260lbs.

Once upon a time there were two other subspecies that were closely related to the Sumatran Tiger- the Bali and Javan Tigers. Both went extinct during the 20th century, and the Sumatran Tiger could very well meet that same fate. They are listed as critically endangered, and there could be as few as 400 left in the wild.

It is now illegal to hunt the tigers, but poaching continues to be a major problem (hunting was the major contributor to the extinction of the other Indonesian subspecies). Tiger bones and other body parts are frequently found in countries that no longer have Tiger populations, as their is a high demand for those parts within traditional medicine. Unfortunately as the Tiger population drops, the supply cannot meet the demand and the black market prices grow higher and higher. This only continues to motivate poaching.

Thankfully there are a number of Sumatran Tigers in zoos worldwide, and captive breeding has proven sucessful in a number of locations. The Los Angeles Zoo, for example, had three cubs born this past fall (one has sadly passed away). Those cubs marked the third litter born at the zoo to mother "Lulu."

IUCN Status : Critically Endangered
Location : Sumatra, Indonesia
Size : Length up to 8ft (2.5m), Weight up to 260lbs (118kg)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Mammalia -- Order : Carnivora
Family : Felidae -- Genus : Panthera -- Species : P. tigris -- Subspecies : P. t. sumatrae

1 comment:

  1. Great post. Hopefully Sumatra's national parks have good anti poaching patrols. I'd love to see the introduction of captive Sumatran tigers to the wild as long as adequate habitat can be secured. The demand for tiger parts in traditional Asian medicines needs to go away too.

    Unfortunately, it seems like human development is continuing to overtake important wildlife habitat in Sumatra-
    http://www.tigertrust.info/sumatran_tiger_newsdetails.asp?newsID=163

    ReplyDelete

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