Within the last century, three subspecies of tigers — the Javan, Bali and Caspian — have been driven to extinction by humans. Six tiger subspecies remain on our planet, but all are in danger of becoming extinct.
The Siberian tiger is the largest of all the tiger subspecies and largest cat in the world. It is the second-most endangered tiger subspecies. Only 330 to 370 of these tigers are left. The Siberian tiger lives primarily in Russia, China and parts of North Korea. Major threats to the Siberian tiger are the deforestation and destruction of its habitat, as well as poaching for its valuable skins. Russia outlawed the killing of tigers in 1995.
South Chinese Tiger
The South Chinese tiger is the most endangered of all the tiger subspecies. Only between 10 and 30 of these tigers live in the wild. Some experts believe the South Chinese tiger already may by extinct in the wild, with only zoo species left. There is an effort underway to save the captive tigers and reintroduce them into the wild.
The Sumatran Tiger is the smallest of all the tiger subspecies and lives exclusively on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. It is estimated that there are between 400 and 500 left roaming. Because this small tiger lives in a dense, tropical habitat and has a remarkably good sense of smell, it is hard for conservationists to accurately take stock of their numbers and work toward their survival.
The Indochinese tiger lives in China, Nepal and the nations of Southeast Asia including Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar and Malaysia. Many Indochinese tigers are kept in tiger farms and killed for their parts. The Save the Tiger Fund’s Campaign Against Tiger Trafficking (CATT) was created to help stop the shipping of Indochinese tigers to these farms.
The Bengal tiger population, found mainly in India, has dwindled to less than 1,500, according to tiger experts. In 1973, the Indian government sponsored “Project Tiger” as a way to help protect the Bengal tiger. However, questions have been raised about the effectiveness of the program.
A New Subspecies Discovered
Scientists recently discovered a new subspecies of tiger through the use of genetic testing. The DNA of an Indochinese tiger was tested and found to consist of two species; both a northern Indo-Chinese subspecies and a new southern subspecies. The new subspecies was named Panthera tigris jacksoni in honor of renowned tiger conservationist Peter Jackson.
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