Known as: Amur Tiger, Siberian tiger, Altaic tiger, Korean tiger, Ussuri tiger
Estimated numbers left in wild: Approximately 400.
Description: The Amur tiger is the largest and most impressive of the wild cats, with the males measuring on average between 2.25 and 3 meters in length, and the females generally 1.7 to 2 meters. Shoulder height is between 95 to 120 centimetres. Amur tigers range in weight from 120 to 220 kilograms, depending on sex, although some exceptionally large male tigers have weighed in excess of 300 kilograms and can have an overall length of 4 meters. As with most tigers, the fur is a russet orange colour with black striping, although the Amur tiger is somewhat paler in colour than other tiger species. White markings are found on the face, throat, and underside. White spots on the back of the ears are thought to provide signals to other tigers, most likely females hunting with their young. Amur tigers have long legs and are able to run up to 80 kilometres per hour.
The Amur tiger is exclusively carnivorous and feeds primarily on wild boar, elk, and deer. However, it is not unknown for these tigers to attack, kill and eat both Asian black bears and Russian brown bears. Some Amur tigers mimic black bear calls to lure the bears to them. They prefer to live in forested areas of the taiga. The Amur tiger is nocturnal, and will generally be seen during the day if desperate for food or if it has been disturbed. This large tiger has no real enemies other than man, and only 20% of tiger mortalities are from natural causes – humans account for 80% of Amur tiger deaths. Poaching for pelts and for ingredients for Chinese medicine accounts for most of the losses, although habitat destruction, mostly in the form of illegal logging also contributes to tiger death.
Although Amur tigers have been known to attack and kill humans, this occurs relatively rarely as the opportunities for the two species to interact are slight in this sparsely populated region. Generally, only a serious injury that prevents normal hunting will drive an Amur tiger to seek out human prey.
As with most big cats, male/female pair bonding only lasts for a few days when the female is receptive. A litter will consist of 2 to 6 kittens, with the sex ratio equal. By the time these young tigers reach adulthood, however, there will be 4 females to every male – the shorter period of time males spend with their mothers and their larger ranges expose them to more dangers.
Location: The range of the Amur tiger is restricted to the easternmost section of Russian Siberia, the Manchurian Mountains from Russia into China, and the northern forests of the Korean peninsula. The primary home of these tigers is the taiga forest region of Siberia, however, and is also referred to as the Amur Region for the Amur River which flows on the border of Russia and China.
Threats: Man is the greatest threat to the Amur tiger, but another threat lies in the lack of genetic diversity in their populations. As the numbers of these tigers has shrunken over the years, the genetic pool has naturally been seriously restricted. Although habitat destruction will further restrict the range of these tigers, the main threat comes from poaching.
Conservation efforts: Although all international trade in Amur tiger parts is banned through the CITES treaty, poaching continues apace. Russia and China are establishing a protected zone that passes through both countries, and radio collars will hopefully allow closer monitoring of the tigers and reduce poaching. Additionally, Amur tigers are being bred in zoos around the world as part of the Species Survival Plan, which breeds endangered animals in captivity with the hope of reintroducing them into the wild.
Amur Leopard and Tiger Alliance (ALTA) consist of 14 international and Russian non-governmental organisations who work to conserve Amur Tigers and reintroduce them to the wild.
David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation sells artwork to fund breeding programmes, anti-poaching projects, field work and education programmes to protect the Amur Tiger in Asia.
Panthera is an American based organisation. Their main focus is to conserve the world’s largest wild cats including the Amur Tiger by supporting research and education programmes in different countries.