Javan Tiger -- Panthera tigris sondaica

Javan - Page 1: In The Wild | 2: Subspecies Description | 3: Photographic Records | 4: Weight & Length Figures

Photographic records of the Javan tiger:

Few photographs exist of this subspecies in a live state, this site endeavours to collect images of all the extinct subspecies and what is shown here is the sum-total for the Javan tiger to date.

The first black and white image on page 1 is the best-known Javan tiger photograph. It was taken in 1938 at Ujung Kulon and published in A. Hoogerwerf's Udjung Kulon:  The Land of the last Javan Rhinoceros.

Little is known of the colour photograph and its identity is in question. It's likely this was taken at Budapest Zoo, however there are indications it may be misidentified across the Web (and in print media) and should, in fact, be identified as a Sumatran tiger which was resident in Budapest until the late 1970s.

Note: Sometimes reported as colour enhanced, it now seems this photograph is an example of standard tonalities on Eastern European colour photographic reproductions right through to the end of the '80s.

The third photograph also has mystery surrounding it. Suggestions have been made the tiger in this image is the same cat as in the colour photograph. David Witts kindly agreed to examine the patternation of both tigers and determined that:

The tiger, unfortunately, cannot be said to be the same cat... the striping pattern is different in the "tight" skin area above the right eye (and also on the cheek).

Camera angle can create a huge difference, of course, and acclimatisation/increased fur length could have created a different effect at a later date. There are a few points of similarity, but not enough for certainty...

The ruff on the tigress in the black and white photo is consistent with a good number of Sumatrans I know, and both cats are bulkier/less stripy, etc., than the only genuine wild Javan photo (refer to the Hoogerwerf image).

Compare also with lack of ruff on the stuffed Hungarian Javan, although taxidermy may also be notoriously uneven in preservation.

The ruff of the tiger in that colour photo also appears to be present, but difficult to detect. However, it does seem "less" than in the black and white photo."

Research is ongoing for both of these images. In an effort to find out more David Witts also studied the International Zoo Yearbooks. These record the following captive Javan tigers:

IZY 4(1962)
Budapest 1 male, 2 females (inc. 1 female bred in captivity)
Cologne 1 female
Kokura (Japan) 1 female
Leningrad 1 male, 1 female
(census for (m)any other zoos may not have been returned)

 IZY 6(1966)
Budapest (yes; number not stated)
Canton 1
Cologne 1 female
Lodz (Poland) 1 male, 1 female
Kuala Lumpur 1 male, 1 female
Peking 1 male, 1 female

IZY 7(1967)

Budapest 1 female (captive born; presumably the individual listed for 1962)
Cologne 1 female
Lodz (Poland) 1 male, 1 female (both captive born)
Kuala Lumpur 1 male, 1 female
Peking (yes; number not stated)
Zagreb 1 male, 1 female

IZY 9(1969)
Budapest 1 female (*purity stated to be uncertain*)
Cologne 1 female
Lodz (Poland) 1 female

IZY 10(1970)
Lodz (Poland) 1 female
Paris 1 female
Budapest (none stated; figures possibly not returned; other species missing, too)

IZY 11(1971)
Budapest 1 female

IZY 12(1972)
Budapest 1 female
Krakow 1 female

IZY 13(1973), 16(1976), 17(1977)
Budapest 1 female

IZY 21(1981), onwards

Thus, the last Budapest female is recorded as dying in the late '70s (as stated previously).

* * * * * *

But even with zoo records there are accuracy problems. Paul Leyhausen (Peter Jackson's predecessor, in charge of the Cat Specialist Group) cautioned that the listed Javan tigers were probably Sumatrans. An examination of one Budapest Zoo tiger, by Kutunidisz and Mazak, actually confirmed that the cat was  Sumatran rather than Javan.

There is little evidence at this time to suggest the colour image widely claimed to be a genuine Javan is of that subspecies.

The Javan tiger was common in Indonesian collections before World War II, but during the war, these zoos and their collections were disbanded. Following the war, when zoo collections were re-established, Javan tigers were very rare in the wild and it was much easier to acquire Sumatran tigers. Again, this supports the belief that the colour image is a Sumatran which has simply been misidentified. Definite doubts exist over the black and white image as well.

On the other hand, the two photos of captive Javan tigers on this page were taken at Berlin Zoo in the early 1900s. Undoubtedly they are genuine and readers may like to compare them to the aforementioned images over which there is so much debate.

Javan - Page 1: In The Wild | 2: Subspecies Description | 3: Photographic Records | 4: Weight & Length Figures

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Photography With Thanks To The Zoological Society Of London.
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