Amur Tiger (Panthera tigris altaica)

Did you know?

  • Amur tigers are the largest of all tigers, as well as the largest of all of cats.
  • To survive winter the tiger has fine but long fur and a layer of fat that allows it to stand the bitter cold. It has large paws which act rather like snow shoes.

Physical description

Amur tigers (Panthera tigris altaica) are the largest of the tiger subspecies.
Males:
  • grow up to 3.3m long
  • weigh up to 300kg

Females:
  • grow up to about 2.6m from head to tail
  • weigh about 100-167kg

Their orange colouring is paler than that of other tigers. Its stripes are brown rather than black, and are widely spaced. It has a white chest and belly, and a thick white ruff of fur around its neck.

Background

There were once 8 tiger subspecies, but 3 became extinct during the 20th century. Over the last 100 years, hunting and forest destruction have reduced overall tiger populations from hundreds of thousands to between 5,000 and 7,000. Tigers are hunted as trophies and also for body parts that are used in traditional Chinese medicine.

Over 90% of Amur tigers are found in Russia. However, in the 1940s the population fell to just 40 animals. At the eleventh hour this subspsecies was pulled back from the brink of extinction. In 1947, Russia became the first country in the world to ban tiger hunting and grant tigers full protection. Hunting of the main prey species, boar and deer, became restricted by annual quota based on the results of population counts. Poaching of tigers became relatively rare, because there was no market for skins and other tiger products.

Amur tiger Conservation

Thanks to this relatively favourable situation, the Amur tiger made a unique and remarkable come-back at a time when numbers in all other parts of the tiger’s wide range in Asia were declining dramatically. ALTA partners and WWF both developed anti-poaching projects that helped to reduce poaching and prevented a collapse of the population. In China, the Amur tiger is dependent on the small source population in the Amur leopard’s range across the border in SW Primorye in Russia. With support from WCS and WWF, in 2001 China established the Hunchun Tiger Leopard Reserve along the border.

The Amur tiger is now listed as endangered by IUCN.

 / ©: WWF-Canon / Vladimir Filonov
The Siberian tiger is one of several endangered species living in China's Heilongjiang province.
© WWF-Canon / Vladimir Filonov

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