Species: P. tigris
Subspecies: P. t. sumatrae
85-91 inches long, males 87-100 inches long
Weight: Females 165-243lbs, males 220-308lbs
Quadruped, furry, powerful body, large paws with sharp claws, long and
thin tail, long hair on the sides of the head, small rounded ears. Smaller
than average tiger.
Color(s): Orange with thick black stripes. Belly and the inside of legs
is white. The eyes are a golden-yellow.
Behavior: Solitary, shy and reclusive, very territorial
Preferred Habitat: Tropical forests, freshwater swamp forests and peat
Range: Scattered areas across Sumatra.
Diet: A variety of prey animals including tapir, dear, wild pigs, monkeys,
birds and fish.
Lifespan: 10-15 years in the wild with 12 being the average, 20 years
Tigers are the largest of
the big cats. When you say "tiger", many people think of the
largest of the large cats, the Siberian tiger, which can grow almost
eleven feet long! But there are other subspecies of tiger that are often
overlooked, such as the smallest surviving subspecies of tiger: the
Sumatran tiger. Sumatran tigers are only found in the jungles, mountains
and marshlands of the island of Sumatra. They are the last of the Sunda
Island Tigers, which included the Bali tigers and Javan tigers, both
of which unfortunately are now extinct.
Sumatran tigers look very similar to other tigers with their signature
orange and black coats, huge teeth and radiant tail. They also bear
tufts of fur on the sides of their heads that is a bit larger than that
of other tigers. While formidable in size, these tigers grow only to
about 100 inches, with males being larger than females. Essentially,
their size is about the same as a large jaguar or leopard. Though they
are smaller than their Siberian cousins, this trait allows them to travel
quickly through the jungle with ease. They also possess webbed paws,
which they use for swimming!
Sumatran tigers are ambush predators, lying in wait for animals such
as tapirs, deer, pigs and monkeys. This is why they prefer areas with
dense vegetation, as this allows them to hide more easily. They are
also known to swim in rivers and swamps to eat fish and other animals.
They depend mostly on their acute senses of sight and hearing more so
than smell when hunting for prey. Sumatran tigers are generally shy
and reclusive, though they fiercely protect their territory from other
tigers of the same sex. Males and females both maintain their separate
territories, which inevitably overlap with one-another.
Sumatran tigers do not have a specific mating season, though they appear
to breed the most from November through April. A male and female tiger
will only meet to mate, though the male may stay within the female's
area afterward. Females gestate for about three and a half months before
giving birth to their cubs. They can have as many as six cubs per litter!
The cubs are born blind and remain so for the first week of their life.
They nurse from their mother for about six months. At about eighteen
months the cubs become more independent, and after two years they will
go on their own.
Sumatran tigers are critically endangered. It is estimated that no more
than 400-500 individuals are left in the wild, with each population
being no larger than fifty individuals. Their main threats include severe
deforestation and poaching. As their habitat shrinks, Sumatran tigers
are increasingly preying on domestic livestock. Sometimes even humans
are attacked. Though it is illegal to hunt tigers in all of Indonesia,
there is still a large black market demand for tiger parts that are
used in traditional Asian medicines. Their bones and reproductive organs
are highly coveted by these illegal operations. Remember, these animal-based
medicines and products have no scientific validity whatsoever!
Though these tigers are in peril, there are massive conservation efforts
underway to save them. The World Wildlife Fund has made protecting tigers
one of their largest campaigns and has collaborated with local governments
to protect tiger habitat and minimize deforestation. Other organizations
such as Fauna & Flora International train park rangers and help
to remove tiger traps in the jungles. All of this work is paying off.
In recent years, some populations of Sumatran tigers have been reported
to be increasing! The path to full recovery for this subspecies will
be long and difficult, but this cooperation and dedication is a remarkable
step forward and hints at a hopeful future.
To help these awesome cats and their larger cousins, check out these
World Wildlife Fund, Sumatran
tiger page-One of the world's leading conservation organizations,
dedicated to protecting many endangered animals and their habitat including
the Sumatran tiger
Fauna & Flora International,
Sumatran tiger page-Working in over 40
countries to protect biodiversity and to educate the public about the
with Save the Tiger Fund-A unique and powerful partnership between
Pathera, which seeks to protect all wild cats, and Save the Tiger Fund,
which aims to specifically preserve tigers.