Name: Siberian (Amur) Tiger (Panthera tigris ssp. altaica)
Conservation Status: Endangered
Population Estimate: 350-400
Range: Russian Far-East / North-Eastern China
Threats: Habitat Loss / Poaching / Illegal Wildlife Trade / Human Tiger Conflict
In 2021 the population of Siberian tigers in the wild is estimated to be around 350-400 tigers. Though their historic range included northeastern China, the Korean Peninsula and as far west as Mongolia, almost all Siberian tigers live in the Southeast corner of Russia in the Sikhote-Alin mountain range east of the Amur River. It is because of this new reduced range that Siberian tigers are also called Amur tigers.
The Siberian tiger is the worlds largest cat.
Description and Habitat:
Siberian tigers usually lives in regions with thick forests, shrubbery, and wild grasslands. Their diets mainly consists of large and medium-sized mammals such as deer, sheep, and wild boar, as well as small mammals and birds. The Siberian tiger not only hunts, but fishes as well.
The average lifespan of the Siberian tiger in the wild is 16-18 years. An adult tiger can reach a weight of 600 lbs. (300 kg.) with the largest tiger recorded being over 800 lbs. (384 kg.).
Siberian tigers face a number of threats including habitat loss, poaching, loss of prey and human tiger conflict. All these threats are interconnected.
Habitat is increasingly being divided into isolated patches, particularly at the southern edge of Amur tiger range And as the tigers lose their habitat due to logging or development, they then lose their prey. Losing their natural prey means they are sometimes forced to turn to domestic livestock for food. This of course put them at odds with farmers and ranchers who shoot them as pests.
The continuous creation of new logging roads also provides poachers with access to formerly remote areas. This new access to once remote areas means that the poaching of tigers has become an increasing problem in recent years, and it is taking a heavy toll on these cats. Siberian tigers are poached for their meat and skins as well as their bones which are used in traditional Chinese (and Asian) medicine.
Killing tigers for traditional Chinese (and Asian) medicine is a lucrative trade. A pair of tiger eyes is worth a few hundred dollars. A tiger paw worth over $1,000. A tiger pelt can fetch as much as $20,000 and a case of tiger wine (tiger bone steeped in liquor) can sell for over $30,000 a case. In other words, a single tiger can bring up to $50k on the International market which is the reason the practice is still flourishing.
In 1993 the State Council of the People’s Republic of China issued a notice declaring the use of tiger bone for medicinal purposes to be illegal. The Chinese government encouraged the Ministry of Public Health and the pharmaceutical companies to seek substitute medicines for tiger parts. However, the “re-legalized” it again for that use in 2018.
Current estimates indicate that 30-50 tigers are poached in the Russian Far East each year, although actual numbers may be higher. Legalizing the use of tiger bones in traditional Chinese (and Asian) medicine may serve to increase that number.
In 1947 the Siberian tiger was taken under protection and tiger hunting was fully prohibited and it was moved from Critically Endangered to Endangered status in 2007. As with all tigers, it is listed in Appendices I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Other conservation actions needed to help protect the Siberian tiger include improving poaching control; connect discontinuous patches of forest habitat; mitigate human-tiger conflicts; strengthen tiger (and all wildlife) legislation; and increase public awareness of the ban on tiger trade and tiger products.
In order for the Siberian tiger to survive in the wild habitat encroachment must stop and the thousands of years old tradition of using tiger parts for medicinal purposes must also end.
South China Tiger
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