Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Siberian Tiger, CE ( critically endangered)
Panthera tigris ssp. Altaica
CE (critically endangered)
photograph by Bruce Mathews
mixed media sculpture, painted hand stitched and beaded leather
Historically the Siberian tiger, ( reverently called "Amba", Great Sovereign, by the Udege people of Russian Far East) inhabited the Korean peninsula, Manchuria, and the Russian Far East. There were thought to be between six hundred and eight hundred tigers in the Russian Far East prior to economic development of the area. By 1940 this estimate dropped drastically to no more than thirty with an unknown number in China and Korea. Approximately two hundred and fifty mature individuals live in the Russian Far East currently but the numbers are declining. Only twenty percent of this declining population can be found within the supposed safe havens of three small reserves.
The Siberian tiger can live to be fifteen years old in the wild and possibly to twenty if kept in a zoo. Males can weigh as much as 660 pounds and be almost eleven feet long. Females will weigh between 200 to 370 pounds and be eight and one half feet long. Their orange colouring is paler than other tigers of the world and their stripes are brown instead of black. In the winter their hair can grow to be as long as twenty-one inches, helping insulate them from frigid winter temperatures. Tigers live a solitary life for the most part. After a gestation period of approximately 110 days, a female will give birth to a litter of two to three cubs, though this number can range from one to six cubs. The Siberian tiger's diet typically consists of red deer and wild boar. Their habitat is mixed pine and broadleaf forest.
Humans are the predators of the Siberian tiger. In the early 1900s the building of the Chinese Eastern Railway aided in the slaughter of the tiger in Manchuria. Poaching continues to this day, in spite of it being against the law, because of unstable economic conditions, the demand for hides and body parts for traditional Chinese medicine. Commercial logging within the dense forests of the Russian Far East and the subsequent development of the cleared land has reduced the tiger's habitat. Humans hunting red deer and wild boar make it difficult for tigers to exist on their traditional diet, forcing them to range into open grasslands to kill cattle for food.
Captive breeding of Siberian tigers within zoos worldwide has been quite successful and their existence in captivity is considered secure. The same can not be said of their existence in the wild.