A few notes on the Tiger.

By: Albert
Date: 31/08/2017
Version: 0.7
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Everbody knows the Tiger ofcourse. So, why would some "Albert"
write a note about them? Sounds like a waste of time...

Maybe, but I have an obsession for the Tigers... I think that this is the real reason.

If I would have a hundred billion dollars (, or said in Dutch: "honderd miljard"), then at least
half of it would go to all sorts of preservation projects for the tigers.

It would also mean buying or leasing large area's of space in the countries where they are still around,
and trying to establish new territories in countries where they used to be.

I would also mobilize and use sciencists, TO THE MAX, for this Project to succeed.

One problem is: Tigers need so much space for a territorium...
Another problem is, how to let them coexists, in some way, with farmers and livestock.
Still another problem is how to convince/educate certain people that "tiger material" cannot
help in medical- or other problems, which sadly some people do believe is true.

The other money would be spend on other projects (like the "clouded leopard") and many other things
for preservation in general. But, I would keep a few million for myself.

You might ask: "Well, surely, then you must have often seen them in the wild, didn't you?"

Sadly: No. I never did see them in the wild. That's really "shit". Ofcourse, like almost everybody else,
I obviously did see them in captivity (like zoo's) or in some special small parks.
Some parks were a real dissapointment,like again exploiting the Tiger for commercial reasons,
or for some other BS reason (sorry for that).

But I have seen a few other larger cats "in the wild" in a few occations. Like a single Leopard in Africa,
closeby, just a few meters away (where I was alone), and smaller cats like a Serval etc.. etc..
And, really long time ago, I was pretty close to a Puma (about 400m) in the US, which was truly
an abnormal fortunate occasion (since it seems it's almost impossible to see them in the wild).

I live in Europe, and in the '80's, and '90's, it always was quite hard to find and watch, for example, Lynxes,
e.g. in Spain, and some other mountainous terrains in Europe. But, with lots of effort, it could be done.

However, lately (say, since the 2000's), I have not seen them at all, anymore !
True, this example animal is very illusive anyway, but even "marks" and tracks seems to be missing.

Lot's of (special) animals and vegetation disappeared in my observations.
Nature is shutting down fast, and I sincerely believe that this is true.

Even today, we have people denying the climate problem, and somehow we are not able to
properly regulate or temper events like "deforestation".

And, if you look at what is happening to lots of people today, then (I am really sorry to say),
one is simply forced to conclude that our global society is as sick as hell.

Now the Tiger... it beats everything !!!!!

However, the animal is extremely endangered.

People who qualified to do so, estimate that only about 3900 specimens are alive today, in the wild.
Other researchers are even more pessimistic: as low as 3200 - 3600 living tigers in the wild

These numbers are so horribly and heartbreakingy low, that I am terrified that we will loose
this fantastic animal soon.

Note: would I really spend nearly 100 billion on preservation, if I would have such
a large sum of money?

You probably think I am lying, or, once having such a fortune, would completely
alter my behaviour. I don't think so, really. I would love to have a sailing boat of 12, 13 meters or so,
but that's about it ! But I must admit, that there are more "humane" affairs that can use
a large sum of money.
But I do not have these funds, unfortunately. So, I am afraid I can't help the Tiger....

1. The subspecies which are still alive Today.

Most scientists say that 4 subspecies are still alive today, in small numbers.

Once, and even not so long ago (couple of hundreds of years), it's likely that
probably 8 subspecies could have been identified.

Note: some scientists even have arguments to discriminate between only two main species: the "continental-"
and "island" subspecies. It's for the scientists in the relevant fields, to determine the best
fitting classifications.
These lines of reasoning (only two main subtypes) are actually rather recent.

Everybody knows how a Tiger looks like, ofcourse. However..., Each subspecies has quite distinctive features
which sets them apart from the other subspecies.

You are absolutely invited to Google on images of the Siberian Tiger, Sumatran Tiger, and the Bengal Tiger.

I would love to place pictures here. However, images of Tigers in captivity, or otherwise in un-natural
conditions, somehow are not very appealing to me. On the other hand, the very true pictures showing them
"in the wild", might be protected by copy rights, so I am a bit reluctant to show any picture.
But that does not matter at all: pictures are all over the Internet.

So, please do Google on images of the Siberian Tiger, Sumatran Tiger, and the Bengal Tiger !!!
It's important to appreciate the specific distinctive features of those animals.
  1. Amur Tiger: First, we have "Amur" tiger, or, as it is also called, the "Siberian" Tiger.
    This is the largest of all cats. It's not uncommon for a healthy adult male Tiger,
    to reach a weight of 350 kg (although many wiki's state a maximum of about 300 kg).
    I am afraid that the criterium of "healthy" will certainly not apply for many specimens today.
    This animal is under an enormous pressure, and it's estimated that a number of 400 to 500 still
    exist in the wild.

    Their appearance is quite robust or rugged compared to other species. They are reported to live in patches of
    Amur-Ussuri region in Siberia, and some patches in China, bordering Siberia, and North Korea.

  2. Sumatran Tiger: Today, it can only be found on the Indonesian island of Sumatra.
  3. It's the smallest and lightest of all Tiger subspecies.

    A healthy adult male, could reach a weight of about 140 kg. Compare that to the 300+ kg Amur Tiger.
    But it's an astonishing beautiful animal. However, it is under an enourmous pressure too.
    It's estimated that less than 400 specimens live in the wild today.
    Unfortunately, deforestation plagues Indonesia, and poaching is a serious threat too.

    In some National Parks in Sumatra, the tigers are protected. I optionally plan to visit Sumatra
    at some time in the next three years. However, really seeing them "in the wild"
    could be something like "mission impossible".
    An alternative to my plan above, might be a visit to the Sundarbans in Bangladesh, which might
    be home for the Bengal Tiger (see below).

  4. The Bengal Tiger: It's the most familiar subspecies. Most zoo's, and parks etc..,
    host the Bengal Tiger. In numbers, it is the most abundant tiger, although that number is
    ofcourse absurdly low, like in the order of 2000 specimens.

    Ofcourse, people are more important, but the animal may suffer too from the recent floods (august 2017)
    in Bangladesh and India.

    An adult healthy male, generally reach a weight of about 200 - 250 kg, which makes it the second most
    heaviest tiger (after the Siberian Tiger).
    However, in more than a few cases, weights were reported of 300 - 325kg.

    The animal lives in patches in India and Bangladesh, and exist a very small distribution in
    Nepal and Bhutan too. Ofcourse, a sighting in some neighbouring nation is still possible.

    The Bangladesh Sundarbans, might be "home" for a relatively large population of Bengal Tigers.
    Generally, scientists seem to estimate this population to be in the order of 200 - 400 specimens.
    It is mainly a mangrove forest, near the coastline, and it actually forms a delta throughout the whole area.

    As already said above, I fear that the recent floodings might have had a large impact on the population.
    At this time, it is not easy at all, to determine the exact impact.

  5. Indochinese tiger: Does the animal still exist in the wild? It's a legitimate question.
    The question also expresses the fact that this subspecies is either totally critically endangered,
    or already gone.

    However, some wiki's still say that several hundreds specimens still exist in Thailand and Myanmar.

    Some other articles state that the Dawna Tennaserim area's in Thailand-Myanmar, might still be home
    to this subspecies.

    After a small survey, I am still not sure at reasonable estimates. This all may sound strange, but in fact, it seems to me
    that a reasonable answer on the question of how many are still alive in the wild, seems impossible to provide.

    However, a number of specimens are alive in several zoo's and Parks, in quite some countries.

    If we would go 100 years back, then we might have said that Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar,
    and patches in South China, were "home" for the Indochinese tiger.

    In appearance, the Indochinese tiger is breathtaking. It's somewhat smaller and lighter compared
    to the Bengal Tiger. An adult healthy male, generally reach a weight of about 150 - 200 kg.
We have seen which subspecies still exist today. Let's spend a few words on the subspecies
that became extinct, rather recently.

2. Extinct subspecies.

This will be a very short section. For a good orientation on Tigers, you should know
which subspecies are still alive in the wild (see Chapter 1). But you should also have
an idea which main subspecies have become extinct, that is, totally gone.

There were at least 8 subspecies of Tigers. Some scientists have reasons to say that there
were in fact 9, or even up to 11 subspecies. I must say that it also matters which
historical perspective one uses. For example, one can "go" a many thousends of years back in time.

I think it's important to use a view from which mankind really started to change his/her environment,
in a very dramatic way. Then I can identify three subspecies.

Note: some even have arguments to discriminate between only two main species: the "continental-"
and "island" subspecies. It's for the scientists in the relevant fields, to determine the best
fitting classifications.
These lines of reasoning (only two main subtypes) are actually rather recent.

The Bali Tiger:

Indeed, they lived on the Indonesian island Bali. They became extinct due to intensive hunting,
and futher interference in the environment, by people. It's only quite recent, that they became extinct.
The latest report, or written account that I have heard of, stems from about 60 years back.

It might have been the smallest of all subspecies. A healthy adult male probably reached a weight of 100 kg.

The Javan Tiger:

More or less a similar story as with the Bali Tiger.

This small tiger lived exclusively on the Indonesian island Java. Same story indeed: They became extinct
due to intensive hunting, and futher interference in the environment, by people.

It probably was just a bit larger than the Bali tiger. It is believed that a healthy adult male
weighted in the order of 110 kg.

They probably became extinct somewhere around the 1950's.

The Caspian Tiger:

The Caspian Tiger, and the Siberian (or Amur) Tiger, are probably "genetically" very close.
The first one, was an enormous cat, only a little less than the Amur Tiger, in terms of length and weight.

Although very detailed photography seems to be missing (in the public domain), arguably,
it might have been the most "striking" cat in terms of appearance.
If you google on images, actually many Siberian tigers (or other tigers) are in the result set.

It's habitat was mainly in many patches around (south and east) of the Caspian Sea, but also in area's ranging
from Turkey, all the way east up to South-West China.

It's fur was (partly) reddish, with dense brown/black striping, probably also depending on the season.

The last sightings might have been in the 1960's of the former century.
It became extict mainly due to intensive hunting, and cultivation of it's habitat.

Did you see that? Three beautiful subspecies became
totally extinct, and all three of them just about 50 or 60 years ago...
When experts say: "It's really almost too late for the Tiger...",
then take it seriously....

3. Some comments on the distribution of Tigers in the wild.

I am not sure if I am on the right track here. But, you can judge for yourself.

Just suppose, one would like to see a map of the distribution of Tigers.

This is pretty hard to do. With only about 3200 - 3900 specimens in the wild, the concept of a "map",
to me, seems a bit out of place. Ok, if there were something like 70000 tigers... it would make sense.

You can find many (rather similar) maps, illustrating densities of tigers. However, most seem to be
seriously outdated. For example, some maps still mention the Indochinese tiger, but I personally have serious
doubts on any printed number with respect to this subspecies.

Some maps even mention the Caspian Tiger, but we know that this presence, regrettably, only was true
in the past. This great animal is definitely gone.

I personnaly fear the recent floods in e.g. Bangladesh, India, for loss of people and animals.
The tiger populations might have been hit hard.

So, my advice is to be carefull in interpreting any map showing distributions of Tigers.

However, there are some small succes stories as well. The article below is just an example.
Here we find a rather unexpected finding of a few Indochinese tigers in Thailand:

New population of rare tigers found in eastern Thailand (bbc.com)
Similar as above (mongabay.com)

Ofcourse, I did not really do, what the title of this chapter suggested. Sorry for that !
However, I will keep searching for reasonable sources of information.

4. Other remarks.

Originally, I wanted to present an overview of parks, national parks, and "good" zoo's,
where tigers can be observed.

However, first hand experience, can never be beaten.

I will maintain this note, when something of importance has occurred, like what I have
seen in the Sundarbans, which I plan to visit somewhere in the next few years.

To conclude this small note, here is a slogan which I found at the San Diego Zoo,
which is fantastic:

Tigers Now..., Tigers Forever !

Ofcourse, the slogan originated from:

www.panthera.org (tigers forever)