Timescale: 2.5 Million Years – Present
Range: Siberia through to South East Asia and Indian subcontinent
Lifespan in Wild: 10-15 Years
Size: Adult Male 70-120cm at Shoulder Height
Conservation Status: Endangered
Tigers truly are one of the most magnificent animals on Earth. The largest of the big cats, tigers are battling at the forefront of big cat conservation, and in countries such as India, they are losing their battle for survival. Tigers once ranged all across Asia, from Turkey in the West, through to the easternmost reaches of Siberia in the East and they are the national animal of India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Malaysia and South Korea.
Tigers are apex predators who prey primarily upon ungulates such as deer and are territorial and generally solitary but sociable animals. Tigers are thought to be more closely related to Snow Leopards than any other cats within Panthera, diverging nearly 3 million years ago in Asia. If you’re interested in big cat evolution, you can read some more about it here. Despite the popular impression that cats hate water, tigers are in fact extremely strong swimmers and have been observed swimming up to 18km per day, even carrying their prey whilst doing it.
Tigers are currently the most endangered of the big cats, with numbers dropping rapidly across all parts of their range due to hunting, poaching and conflict with humans. They are able to mate all year round (most commonly in November-April) however tiger cubs have an extremely high mortality rate of 50% in their first two years.