The Siberian Tiger: a Growl Away from Extinction
Endangered Fierce Beauty
Siberian tigers, also known as Amurs, are magnificent animals residing in world’s coldest areas. One of the largest wild cats in the world, they have been an endangered species since 1959. With merely 40 in population then, to closer to 500 now, it has been a long journey. Thanks to some excellent conservation efforts of the Russian community and strong anti-poaching laws with support from the World Wildlife Fund, the figures are better than what we had 100 years ago.
These massive carnivores are poached because just one tiger kill can support the entire family of a poacher for over a year. Siberian Tigers have always been poacher’s favorite for their fur and useful body parts for making Chinese medicines.
Siberian tigers are the largest in the tiger species with the length going up to 13 feet and weight up to 700 pounds. The males are noticeably longer and larger than the female tigers. Because of being the residents of colder climates, their fur is very dense with as many as 3,000 hairs in just a square inch of the body.
At one time, Siberian tigers were in the areas of Siberia, Korea, China and Russia, but now they are found only in Russia. This magnificent animal prefers mountainous and thickly forested regions. This tiger loves to hunt and travel alone and has large territories. The first major form of defense used by Siberian tiger is its tail having the rattles at its end. Being a powerful jumper and climber with dagger-like retractable claws, the Siberian tiger is one of the most ferocious and fastest-running cats. This cat can jump as far as 23 feet.
The average dietary requirement of a Siberian tiger is 20 pounds of meat daily. It is mainly comprised of deer, buffalos, pigs and elk. This tiger does go for monkeys, fish and frogs--but only when there is scarcity of food. An adult tiger can have even up to 200 pounds of meat daily.
Siberian tigers are usually mature at around 3-5 years of age. There is no particular season for mating, and hence they can mate as per the female receptiveness. The female tiger stays with the male for about a week and then leaves. The gestation period is usually of three months, leading to birth of 4-6 cubs. The female cubs stay close to their mothers for a long time as compared to males.
Although very rarely, Siberian tigers do prey on bears. This can be a very ghastly encounter if the bear is more powerful. This predation actually supports Darwin’s theory of evolution, justifying the survival of fittest. The wolf, another fierce competitor, is another enemy in true sense. If their territories overlap, they can be really hunting each other even without the desire of eating the other.
‘Siberian Tiger Project’, launched by the Wildlife Conservation Society, came at the right time to rescue this about-to-be-extinct species. It included not only tiger tracking but vigilant patrols, habitat studies and more conducive environment production techniques to make survival in the wild easy. The Siberian tiger is a strong but vulnerable creature and needs all possible protective measures to save this species from extinction.