The Tiger (Panthera tigris) is the largest of all the wild cats, yet the Tiger is also the most endangered and some populations have already gone extinct. In spite of many conservation programs it is estimated the Tiger population has declined by over 95% in the past 100 years, primarily due to poaching and habitat loss caused by ever increasing human populations.
Besides being the largest of the big cats, Tigers have a unique coat pattern of only stripes. Other cats may have stripes on parts of their coats but their markings will also include spots, rosettes or blotches.
Key Facts about Tigers
~ Largest wild cat species ~
~ Striped coat pattern ~
~ Highly endangered ~
The Tiger (Panther tigris) belongs to the big cat genus Panthera within the subfamily Pantherinae of the Felidae cat family. The full taxonomy or scientific classification of the Tiger species is:
Kingdom: Animalia (animals)
Phylum: Chordata (vertebrates)
Class: Mammalia (mammals)
Order: Carnivora (carnivores)
Suborder: Feliformia (cat-like)
Subfamily: Pantherinae (big cats)
Genus: Panthera (big cats)
Species: Panthera tigris (tiger)
Note: The scientific name for the Tiger, Panthera tigris, is also known as the binomial name, species name, latin name, biological name and zoological name. Some use the term 'botanical name' however that is only applicable to the plant kingdom (botany) and not the animal kingdom (zoology).
Subspecies (Lower Classifications)
Six extant Tiger subspecies (or lower classifications) were described in the last Red List assessment in 2014 and three subspecies have already gone extinct:
Critically Endangered (CR)
- South China Tiger Panthera tigris amoyensis
- Malayan Tiger Panthera tigris jacksoni
- Sumatran Tiger Panthera tigris sumatrae
- Amur / Siberian Tiger Panthera tigris altaica
- Indochinese Tiger Panthera tigris corbetti
- Bengal Tiger Panthera tigris tigris
- Bali Tiger Panthera tigris balica
- Javan Tiger Panthera tigris sondaica
- Caspian Tiger Panthera tigris virgata
However the last Felidae taxonomy revision in 2017 proposed only two subspecies of Tigers based on comprehensive genetic studies:
- Panthera tigris tigris - Mainland : larger size, paler coat with fewer stripes
- Panthera tigris sondaica - Sumatra : smaller size, darker coat with more stripes
*extant = still in existence
The global conservation status for Tigers is Endangered (EN) and populations continue to decline.
The following global organizations are fighting to conserve our iconic Tigers amidst ever growing human populations and illicit poaching:
Panthera.org - Tigers Forever
World Wildlife Fund WWF - Tigers TX2
Wildlife Conservation Society WCS Russia - Siberian Tiger
Wildlife Conservation Society WCS Russia - Amur Tiger
Please support these organizations with their important work if you can. No matter the size of your contribution, every bit helps!
Facts and Information
The following websites have well researched and authoritative information on Tigers:
- Tiger Status and Distribution Map - IUCN Red List
- Tiger Detailed Information - IUCN Cat Specialist Group
- Tiger Academic Literature pdf - IUCN Cat Specialist Group
Big Cat Documentary:
Preview The Secret Lives of Big Cats filmed using high tech starlight and thermal imaging night cameras to capture previously unrecorded behavior. The series includes seven episodes on the secret lives of Lions, Tigers, Jaguars, Leopards, Snow Leopards, Pumas and Cheetahs. Produced by CuriosityStream.
Tiger Safaris Asia
The following organizations offer tours to places in Asia where you are likely to see Tigers in their natural habitat. These companies offer small group experiences, support conservation projects, and indicate their trips are environmentally and ethically responsible:
- Naturetrek - Tiger Watching
- Responsible Travel - Tiger Safaris
- Natural World Safaris - Tiger Experiences
- Royle Safaris - Tiger Holidays
Always bear in mind that sightings of any particular animal in its natural environment are not guaranteed and the experience of guides will greatly enhance your success.
Tiger Art Prints by Barbara Keith
Images copyright Barbara Keith