Van Gogh would've sold more than one painting if he'd put tigers in them.
Majestic and one of the most charismatic members of the cat family, tigers are widely known for their striped, reddish-orange coat, and ferocious nature. This largest cat species belonging to the genus Panthera
, has 9 subspecies-6 extant and 3 extinct. Today, after losing 93% of their historic range, the surviving subspecies also face extinction in the wild.
The Sumatran tiger is one such subspecies that has been classified as Critically Endangered
in 2008 by IUCN. It is the smallest of all extant tiger species, and also the only living member of the Sunda Islands group of tigers. The accelerated decline in their population has compelled the government to exercise stricter laws on the island. This Buzzle article deals with some interesting facts associated with the Sumatran tiger.
Range and Habitat
As the name suggests, Sumatran tigers are found on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, having a sporadic distribution. They inhabit a variety of habitats, ranging from mountains to swamps, and lowland forests to peat swamps. Their range spans from the Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park in the south to the Gunung Leuser National Park in the north. The tiger is mostly found in the forested area of the Tiger Conservation Landscapes. Sumatran tigers also have a 37,000 km2 protected area spread across 10 national parks.
Being one of the smallest in size, the physical attributes of these tigers also vary from other subspecies. According to a study report submitted by the American Society of Mammalogists, the males weigh between 220 to 310 lbs., and the females' weight ranges from 170 to 240 lbs. The total length of a full-grown male is 87 to 89 inches, and that of the female is 85 to 91 inches. The greatest length of the skull of a male and a female cat is 11.6 to 13.2 inches and 10.4 to 11.6 inches, respectively.
The diet of these carnivorous mammals comprise animals of all sizes - mainly deer, boars, and wild cattle. Like other cats, these tigers resort to the usual method of stalk-and-ambush while hunting their prey. The cat attacks its prey from behind, grabbing its neck and latches on until the prey dies-either from strangulation or spinal injury.
Female tigers attain sexual maturity at the age of 3-4 years, and males at 4-5 years. They can mate any time during the year, however, mating is more frequent during November to April. With an average gestation period of 104-106 days, a tigress gives birth to 2-3 cubs every 2-3 years.
One of the major reasons for the declining number of Sumatran tigers from their natural habitat is the expanding oil palm and acacia plantations. Poaching―at least 40 tigers per year―is also a matter of grave concern.