Siberian tigers, also called Amur tigers, are the largest cats in the world. Their primary habitat is in eastern Russia’s birch forests, although there are a few living in China and North Korea. Sadly, by recent estimates, there are only 400 to 500 Siberian tigers living in the wild, due to humanity’s encroachment on the tiger’s territory and wanton trophy hunting and the black-market demand for various parts of the tiger in places like China. Fortunately recent studies suggest that the number of these beautiful cats living in the wild are stable, but the Siberian tiger still a highly endangered species.
The northern climate these big cats dwell in is much harsher than those of other species of tigers, but the Siberian tiger has some advantages that enable them to live in such an unforgiving landscape. The northern forests of Russia have the lowest human population of any tiger habitat, and an excellent ecosystem that offers plenty of game. The woodlands of norther Russia are quite extensive because the timber industry there is not a major proponent of the economy. This gives the tigers plenty room to wander about and a good chance at survival.
Female tigers give birth to litters that usually contain two to six cubs, and raise the cubs with no help from the male. Cubs are helpless and do not start hunting until they are at least eighteen months old. Tiger cubs remain with their mothers for two to three years, and then they wander off, or are driven off by their mother, to find their own territory.
Tigers are not social creatures and, once grown, prefer to live alone; and they are very aggressive in protecting their territory. Tigers will scent-mark large territories to keep their rivals away and will attack any intruder. They are nocturnal, and are very strong, powerful hunters. They often travel many long miles to find prey, like elk, wild boar or deer. Tigers are masters of camouflage and are extremely stealthy hunters. They will lie absolutely still while waiting for some unsuspecting creature, and then the tiger will creep very quietly to get close enough to attack their victim with a lightning fast spring. A tiger who is very hungry will eat 60 pounds of meat in a single night, although they usually eat less–saving the rest of the carcass until the next meal.
The largest of all the wild cats, Siberian tigers are famous for their power, strength, and beauty. Once, the world had eight tiger subspecies, but due to the carelessness of man, and his greed for money, three of these species disappeared forever from the world during the 20th century. During the last one hundred years, trophy hunting, poaching, and the destruction of the world’s forest have all but decimated the world’s tiger populations from hundreds of thousands to no more than 5,000 to 7,000 tigers worldwide.
The demand for body parts that are used in traditional Chinese medicine have made poaching a lucrative business for many. The five remaining tiger subspecies left in the world are extremely endangered, and while there are many protection programs set up to help prevent the complete extinction of these noble beasts, poaching still remains the biggest threat to everyone of them.
In spite of the tales of tigers attacking and eating humans, most tigers prefer to avoid man. However, once in a while, a few do resort to hunting humans because they have either become ill and can not hunt as is usual, or humans have decimated the tiger’s territory and their usual prey leaving the tiger to resort to taking what they can find.