Amur or Siberian tiger -- Panthera tigris altaica

Amur - Page 1&2: In The Wild | 3: In Captivity | 4&5: Subspecies Description| 6: Weight & Length Figures |
7: Conservation

A name change for the Siberian tiger:

The Amur tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) is also known by several other names, with the commonest of these being the Siberian. The terms Manchurian and Northeast China tiger are also in usage, Manchuria being part of this tiger's former range. The name 'Siberian' tiger came about because this subspecies was originally found across much of Siberia. Its territory is now so reduced that this tiger is almost entirely restricted to a small area in eastern Russia. Around 20 are left in the Mount Changbai area of northeast China and a handful in the extreme northern regions of North Korea.

Increasingly the tigers of these countries are being considered as one population and it is known they cross the borders from one country to another. This happened in 1984 with a tigress which is now in captivity in China.

Due to the fact that the Amur River runs directly through their Russian habitat the common name of the Siberian tiger has changed to reflect their modern-day status and this subspecies is now usually referred to as the Amur tiger.

Shaded Area: Historical Range
Orange Area: Present Range 

Distribution and habitat of the Amur tiger:

Their Russian stronghold is considered to be Ussuriland, specifically the Sikhote-Alin Mountains, which they share with brown bear, Asiatic black bear, leopard, wolf and lynx.

The habitat of Amur tigers ranges from tundra, to humid forests, to coniferous bush-covered mountains up to 6,600 feet. They occupy the largest tract of contiguous forest remaining on earth. Apart from the rarity of the tigers, this in itself is of conservational significance as the area is the most biological diverse in Russia. 

Amur tiger numbers and genetic viability:

Wild Amur tigers are thought to have experienced a 1940 all-time low of approximately 50 cats in Russia and an unknown number in China, but this could have been as high as 100 at the time. Though the Russian figure is often quoted as 24 tigers it's very unlikely numbers ever plumbed those depths.

Recovery has been seen for this subspecies with optimistic estimates now considering there may be as many as 350 to 400 Amur tigers in the wild. Figures remain vague due to the associated difficulties in counting such shy animals.

With the exception of some of the Russian cats, many populations are now too small to be genetically viable. In itself this may not be as much of a problem as it seems on the surface. The Amur tiger has never been common and populations which maintain a low level for long periods of time are not as subject to genetic problems as larger populations which abruptly crash or are splintered. Examples of these are the Bengal and Sumatran tigers.

The Manchurian tiger is well-documented as travelling hundreds of miles in search of prey. Given this, it's also possible the isolated groups may relocate naturally.

(Continued Page 2)

Amur - Page 1&2: In The Wild | 3: In Captivity | 4&5: Subspecies Description| 6: Weight & Length Figures |
7: Conservation

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Photography With Thanks To Ralf Schmode
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