Tiger Subspecies

I have mentioned them in the introduction. Their scientific names are as below. The links go to pages on the individual subspecies:
  • Panthera tigris ssp. altaica - Siberian or Amur tiger - see Siberian tiger habitat
  • Panthera tigris ssp. amoyensis - South China tiger
  • Panthera tigris ssp. balica - Bali Tiger
  • Panthera tigris ssp.corbetti - Indochinese Tiger
  • Panthera tigris ssp. jacksoni (after Peter Jackson) (Malaysia calls the tiger: Panthera tigris malayensis after the region) - Malayan tiger
  • Panthera tigris ssp. sondaica - Javan tiger - the most recent tiger subspecies to become extinct. People still claim to see it but are they getting mixed up with the leopard? This tiger is small. It is still feared. And if it still exists it is very unlikely to survive.
  • Panthera tigris ssp. sumatrae - Sumatran tiger - the differences in this tiger in respect of DNA and morphology are such that it has been proposed that it should be a distinct species1.
  • Panthera tigris ssp. tigris - Bengal tiger (new window) - see Bengal tiger habitat - this is the first recognised subspecies7.
  • Panthera tigris ssp. virgata - Caspian tiger (Hyrcanian Tiger, Turan Tiger). It has been decided that this is not subspecies. Differences were due to clinal variation.
Most of the hard to spot (to the layperson) variations amongst tigers such as size, skull shape etc. are not "strongly associated with subspecies"7. The variations are continuous across the geographic range of the tiger (clinal variation). Only three contemporary populations have been isolated to allow the development of distinct populations.

The white tiger is not considered a subspecies. The white or colour diluted coat is the result of a genetic mutation. Interestingly in the domestic cat world of the cat fancy (a group of people who breed and show cats) a genetic mutation of almost any type has been seized upon as a chance to create a completely different breed of cat. Of course a breed is not a species or even a subspecies. See:
The South China tiger is almost a paradigm case of the destruction of the tiger generally. It is not only the wild South China tiger that has been destroyed; the management of captive tigers has been of such poor quality that at 2005 only 57 existed and they were inbreed and not purebred! Read more: South China tiger.

 There would seem to be very little visual difference between the various subspecies but size is one noticeable variable if a visual comparison can be made (which it actually can't or very rarely can). See a description of the Siberian tiger.

Tiger Species Weights lbs (Wikipedia®)
Indochinese (and Malayan) Average male 420
Siberian Males: 419 to 675
Bengal Average male 488
South China Males about 330
Javan Males 220 - 310

Please go to the references label to see references.


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