This is the first part of series examining the impact of forest loss on Siberian tigers. Part II will discuss in more detail what their shrinking habitat may mean for their future.
The Siberian or Amur tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) occupies the northernmost areas of all tiger species, with the Korean pine forests of the Russian Far East comprising its favorite habitat. Fewer than 400 adult and subadult Siberian tigers remain, 95 percent of which were reported in the Sikhote-Alin Mountains that run from north to south east of Vladivostok. A population of about 20 tigers has been reported in Southwest Primorsky, close to Russia’s border with China.
“A full range survey is planned for this coming winter, but no full range survey has been conducted since 2005,” Dale Miquelle, Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society Russia Program, told mongabay.com. “Most people think numbers have dropped since that time. The 2005 survey had about 120 adult males, 180 adult females, 30 subadults and about 100 cubs.”
The Wildlife Conservation Society has been monitoring over 60 radio-collared tigers in the area since 1992, and uncovered a wealth of information about their natural history. For instance, they found that tigresses need a home range of 250 to 450 square kilometers (97 to 174 square miles), and dispersing young tigers may wander over 200 kilometers (125 miles) in search of their own territories. They feed mainly on red deer, wild boar and sika deer. Tigresses produce an average of 2.4 cubs every 21 months, but researchers found about half of them died before adulthood, often as a result of the poaching of their mothers.
The home range of the Siberian tiger is much larger than that of its close relative, the Bengal tiger. Researchers believe this is because there is less prey available in the Siberian tiger’s higher latitude habitat.