Tiger (Panthera tigris)
Tiger (Panthera Tigris) by Bjørn Christian Tørrissen (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikimedia Commons

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.

Panthera Lineage

1. Tiger (Panthera tigris)

2. Lion (Panthera leo)

3. Jaguar (Panthera onca)

4. Leopard (Panthera pardus)

5. Snow Leopard (Panthera uncia)

6. Clouded Leopard (Neofelis nebulosa)

7. Sunda Clouded Leopard (Neofelis diardi)

Key Facts about Tigers

~ Largest wild cat species ~

~ Striped coat pattern ~

~ Highly endangered ~

Classification

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)

Family: Felidae (cats)

Subfamily: Pantherinae (big cats)

Genus: Panthera (big cats)

Species: Panthera tigris (tiger)

  Subspecies:

P.t. tigris

P.t. sondaica

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).

Tiger (Panthera tigris) Classification Chart
Click chart to download.
Permission to use for personal or educational use.
Credit: www.WildCatFamily.com.
Wild Cats of India Chart
Wild Cats of India by Rohan Chakravarty

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

Endangered (EN)

  • Amur / Siberian Tiger Panthera tigris altaica
  • Indochinese Tiger Panthera tigris corbetti
  • Bengal Tiger Panthera tigris tigris

Extinct (EX)

  • 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:

  1. Panthera tigris tigris - Mainland : larger size, paler coat with fewer stripes
  2. Panthera tigris sondaica - Sumatra : smaller size, darker coat with more stripes

*extant = still in existence

Conservation

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!

Bengal Tiger Ranthambhor National Park

Panthera Genus Big Cat Chart
Panthera Genus Chart by Wild Cat Family
Click chart to download.
Permission to use for personal or educational use.
Credit: www.WildCatFamily.com.

Facts and Information

The following websites have well researched and authoritative information on Tigers:

 

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:

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 (Panthera tigris) swimming

Books about Tigers

The Great Soul of Siberia: In Search of the Elusive Siberian Tiger

Tigers: Artists for Nature in India

Feline Behaviour and Welfare

Tigers Forever by Winter and Guynup
Tigers Forever
By Steve Winter & Sharon Guynup

 

Tigers of the World, Second Edition: The Science, Politics and Conservation of Panthera tigris
Tigers of the World
Editors Tilson and Nyhus
(academic - eTextbook available)
The Vanishing Tiger 2003
The Vanishing Tiger by V.R. Sinha

Tiger Art Prints by Barbara Keith

Images copyright Barbara Keith

Tiger Art Print
Opulent by Barbara Keith
Tiger Wall Art by Barbara Keith
Silent Partners by Barbara Keith
Tiger Poster by Barbara Keith
Forceful by Barbara Keith