The largest tiger - small in numbers
The Siberian Tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) is a rare subspecies of tiger (P. tigris). Also known as the Amur, North China, Manchurian, or Korean Tiger, it is the largest tiger sub-species in the world.
There were once 8 tiger subspecies, but 3 became extinct during the 20th century.
The Siberian Tiger is the largest subspecies of tiger with an average size of about 2m and weighing up to 360kg. They also have larger feet than most other tigers to facilitate movement through snow.
It is differentiated from other tigers by its paler fur and dark brown (rather than black) stripes.
Their fur is also thicker and longer to keep them warm in the freezing temperatures of their habitat.
They live alone and aggressively scent-mark large territories to keep their rivals away.
The Siberian Tiger is possibly one the world most majestic and fearsome predators.
They travel many miles to find prey, such as deer and wild boar, mainly on nocturnal hunts. It is also reported that tigers will attack and kill bears (to eat) and wolves (to remove competition for food).
Females give birth to litters of 2-6 cubs, which are born blind. They are raised with little or no help from the male.
Tigers use their distinctive coats as camouflage - no 2 tigers have exactly the same stripes - and hunt by stealth. They lie in wait and creep close enough to attack their victims with a quick spring and a fatal pounce.
A hungry tiger can eat as much as 27.2 kg of meat in 1 night,.
Your chances of seeing one in the wild
The Siberian Tiger is critically endangered.
It has virtually disappeared from South Korea and is largely confined to a very small part of Russia's southern Far East.
Captive breeding and conservation programs are currently active, though their are concerns over how effective captive breeding can be because of difficulties in re-introducing them to the wild - it is unlikely that they will know how to hunt, and so would likely starve.
The last full scale census (1996) reported the number of Armur tigers in the wild to be between 415 and 476 individuals and that the population was at least thought to stable. These figures don't include the small numbers of this subspecies present in mainland China.
2 new National Parks have been created in Russia to protect the Armur tiger in 2007 (Udege Legende and Zov Tigra). as these become established the possibility of sustainable tourism should open up.
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