Tigers In Black And White

The Plight Of The Tiger

There are nine subspecies of tigers. Three of these are extinct and one other is extinct in the wild. The surviving five species are all on the Endangered or Critically Endangered list. Hunting, poaching, loss of habitat, loss of food source, and other mostly man-made problems have severally diminished the populations of the big cats. The tigers that are pictured below are all captive animals. Sadly, very few of these are ever released back into the wild although there are some programs that promote this end.

Siberian Tiger aka Amur Tiger

The Siberian Tiger is found mainly in Eastern Russia with a few in bordering northern China. I photographed them in China near the Russian border in the coldest weather I’ve ever experienced. So cold that my camera actually froze on one occasion.

The Siberian Tiger is the largest tiger in the world today with the mature males averaging between 475 to 660 pounds. After almost being hunted to extinction in the early 1930’s their numbers have increased in recent years. In 2021 it was estimated that there were between 480 and 540 Siberian Tigers in the wild and about 650 living in captivity.

The tigers in the following images were photographed in an all male compound. I was in the compound in a vehicle with bars on the windows (making photographing them difficult). These are massive cats! And yet, you can see postures and behaviors found in your own house cat.

(Click on an image to enlarge)

Indochinese Tiger

The tigers in the following images were photographed in Thailand. The weather there was very hot in stark contrast to the environment the Siberian Tigers live in. It’s believed that only 350 total are alive in the wild. These are mainly in Thailand with a few in Myanmar. They are now officially extinct in China, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. Indochinese Tigers are a bit smaller than the Bengal Tiger ( the second largest), males weighing between 330 and 440 pounds. A water feature in this compound served to cool off and exercise the tigers allowing them to jump from the rocks into the water.

It is sad to note that a number of the facilities with licenses to keep captive tigers also either legally or illegally sell body parts in a very lucrative market. Traditional Chinese medicine uses the organs and bones of tigers for a number of ailments and enhancements. Black market trading makes tigers in the wild a target for poachers.

The Siberian Tiger compound that I visited was run by the Chinese government, the one in Thailand was a private compound which was later shut down by the Thai government. There are organizations and governments around the world working to save the tigers from extinction. It would be a shame to loose such a magnificent animal forever.

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