How far can tigers swim?

It is well known that tigers are excellent swimmers. In the hot season in India and elsewhere they spend a lot of the daytime in water half submerged to keep cool. They like water. So how far can they swim? My research indicates that there are records of tigers sometimes visiting islands in the Sunda Strait. In this stretch of water there are strong tidal currents of more than 4 km/h.

Tigers like water
Tigers like water. Photo in public domain.

The map below shows you the location of the Sunda Straits and below that there are two photographs which give you a feel for the geography of that area.

Sunda Strait
Sunda Strait. Photo; Google Maps.

Sunda Strait
Sunda Strait. Photo: Google Maps.

There are several islands in the Sunda Straits but the closest appear to be around 2.5 km from the mainland. The island in the middle of the Straits is about 15 km from the mainland. Taking the shorter distance, it is still a substantial effort for a tiger to swim 2.5 km in a 4 km/h current.

The Ranthambore National Park, in India, website tells us that they may even be able to swim up 30 km but I can't confirm this and it might be an exaggeration.  But I would not be surprised if it was true. Animals have an extraordinary capacity to swim long distances when needs must.

Although they do confirm they can swim several kilometres which confirms what I have stated above. My information comes from a very reliable source which is perhaps the best book on the wild cats that you can get namely Wild Cats of the World by Mel and Fiona Sunquist.


The conclusion, therefore, that I have to the question in the title is tigers can swim around 3 km but probably considerably further. The point, though, is that there are no hard and fast records on this and therefore you won't see a comprehensive, definitive page on the topic.

P.S. Cats, including the humble moggie, have partially webbed feet; a strong indicator that through evolution cats are required to swim for their survival. They can also swim at the least adequately.


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