Matt Armstrong Ford
David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

Tiger Facts

Tigers are enigmatic and mysterious. As a stealthy, ambush predator that survives by remaining hidden, it’s no wonder that there is a lot to learn about these iconic animals. Below, we’ve collated some frequently asked questions and tiger facts to help you get to know them a little better.

How many tigers are left in the wild?

It is estimated that there are as few as 4,000 wild tigers left in the world – represented by five different sub-species. The Bengal tiger is the most numerous, with approximately 3,100 found across India and its neighbours. The Amur tiger numbers at around 400, as does the Sumatran tiger. The Indochinese tiger population is estimated at 250 animals, equal to that of the Malayan tiger.

Even the most optimistic estimate of wild tiger numbers is a maximum of 5,000.

A sixth sub-species of tiger – the South China tiger now only exists in captivity, with approximately 40 animals left.

Artwork by Simone Mulas
David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation
Where do tigers live?

Tigers show incredible adaptations and variation that enables them to live in different environments. Amur tigers are found in the Russian and Chinese boreal forests of the far North. Whereas other tigers are distributed across Asia, including India, Myanmar, Thailand, and Malaysia.

Small numbers are likely to also be found in Laos and possibly Cambodia too. Unfortunately, they have now disappeared from their former natural range across Vietnam and eastern Asia.

In almost all cases, tigers prefer thick jungle and forest habitat where their unique striped coat provides the perfect camouflage to break up their outline.

Are Amur (Siberian) and white tigers the same species?

No! White tigers do not naturally occur in the wild. They are a genetic variant of the Bengal tiger, bred in captivity. White tigers often show characteristics of inbreeding due to the very small gene pool used to create them.

Are tigers bigger than lions?

Yes – at least sometimes. The Amur tiger is the largest known big cat. Males can weigh in at as much as 250kg (551 lbs.), and measure 3 metres (9 feet, 10 inches) long.

What do tigers eat?

Tigers are strict carnivores but also opportunists. Their favoured prey varies from region to region, but primarily they prefer to target large deer species like samba, as well as wild boar, gaur, and water buffalo. However, tigers have been found to prey on a wide variety of species, ranging from elephant calves to small rodents. They will also scavenge, and steal kills from other carnivores, such as leopards and dholes (wild dogs). 

Why are tigers endangered?

Tiger numbers have been severely impacted over the last century by hunting, poaching, both the illegal and legal wildlife trade, as well as habitat loss, climate change, and human-wildlife conflict.

In the 19th and early 20th century, tigers were prized as big game animals, and were hunted across Asia without restriction.

The value of their skins, as well as demand for tiger bone and other parts as status symbols and in traditional medicine, made them a prize for poachers too. Since the 1970s, demand for tiger products has soared, with international criminal gangs and syndicates creating a black-market trade feeding a larger illegal industry worth as much as $23 billion.

Climate change has seen tiger habitat impacted by forest fires and flooding, causing devastation to their precious and vulnerable ecosystems.

And then, what little habitat that remains continues to be encroached on by humans, claiming it for grazing, agriculture, and settlement. In such instances, if tigers kill livestock (where they can’t find other prey) or are active around humans, they can be killed out of fear and retaliation.

How can we help tigers?

You can help tigers by donating to the important and vital work DSWF does, or by adopting a tiger through DSWF – where you’ll get new facts and updates about your sponsored tiger.

DSWF funds and supports frontline conservation projects. Over half the remaining population of Indochinese tigers alone are protected by DSWF funded rangers. We also run vital education and community engagement programmes, turning human-carnivore conflict into human-wildlife co-existence. We also dedicate funding and resources to investigations and exposés of wildlife crime.

Your help and support WILL safeguard the future for tigers.

You can support our work to save endangered animals from extinction by adopting today.

David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation
Craig Jones

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