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The Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) is a subspecies of tiger found on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Recent genetic testing has revealed the presence of unique genetic markers, which isolate Sumatran tigers from all mainland subspecies. Currently, there are only 100-400 Sumatran tigers left in the wild.
Like most wild cats, Sumatran tigers are solitary animals that live within marked, carefully guarded territory. Hunting begins at dusk and is by no means easy: tigers may travel more than 20 miles to find suitable prey, and will successfully catch their target only one out of every ten or twenty attempts.
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: The Sumatran Tiger is the smallest of all tiger subspecies. Male Sumatran tigers average 204 cm (6 feet, 8 inches) in length from head to tail and weigh about 136 kg. Females average 198 cm (6 feet, 6 inches) in length and weigh about 91 kg (200 lb). Its stripes are narrower than other subspecies of tigers’ stripes, and it has a more bearded and maned appearance, especially the males. Its small size makes it easier to move through dense rain forests. It has webbing between its toes that, when spread, makes Sumatran tigers very fast swimmers. It has been known to drive hoofed prey into the water, especially if the prey animal is a slow swimmer.
DIET: Sumatran Tigers commonly prey on larger ungulates, like Wild Boar, Malayan Tapir and deer, and sometimes also smaller animals, like fowl, monkeys, and fish. Orangutans could be prey, but since they spend a minimal amount of time on the ground, tigers rarely catch one.
HABITAT: The Sumatran tiger is only found naturally in Sumatra, a large island in western Indonesia. It lives anywhere from lowland forests to mountain forest and inhabits many unprotected areas. Only about 400 live in game reserves and national parks, The largest population of about 110 tigers lives in Gunung Leuser National Park. Another 100 live in unprotected areas that will soon be lost and the rest are spread out in areas that are quickly being lost to agriculture. The reserves are not safe because, despite conservation efforts, many tigers are killed by poachers each year. The Sumatran Tiger is found only on the Indonesian island of Sumatra in habitat that ranges from lowland forest to sub mountain and mountain forest including some peat swamp forests. According the Tiger Information Centre and the World Wildlife Fund there are no more than 500 of these tigers left in the wild with some estimates considerably lower.
For the most part, these tigers are solitary, with the only basic social unit being the mother and her young. Males rarely associate with a specific female and may claim a territory containing several females. Territories are marked with scents on bushes or other plants; scratches on trees, or scrapes on the ground, which generally help to eliminate possible confrontations.
Mating typically occurs in winter or spring, and the mother will give birth to two to four cubs. She raises them alone and they will be totally dependent on her for food until about 18 months. At about two years the cubs will become independent, and will reach full maturity at about three and a half years for females and five years for males. Average life span is 15 years but they may reach up to 26 years in captivity.
Analysis of DNA is consistent with the hypothesis that the Sumatran Tigers have been isolated after a rise in sea level at the Pleistocene to Holocene border (about 12,000-6,000 years ago) from other tiger populations. In agreement with this evolutionary history, the Sumatran Tiger is genetically isolated from all living mainland tigers, which form a distinct group, closely related among each other.
STATUS: Critically Endangered. Continued agricultural habitat destruction, poaching, and killing of tigers that come into contact with villagers, all intensify the crises surrounding tiger.
The continuing loss of habitat is intensifying the crises to save this tiger.
In August of 2009, thieves broke into the Taman Rimba Zoo on Sumatra and poached a female Sumatran Tiger.
Picture made in LA Zoo
Canon EOS 40D
Canon Zoom lens EF 90-300mm 1:4,5-5,6 USM
Exposure time 1/500s
Aperture value f/5
Focal length300 mm