Amur Tiger - Colchester Zoo, Colchester, Essex, England - September
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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia ~ The Siberian tiger (Panthera tigris altaica), also known as the Amur tiger, Manchurian tiger, or Ussuri tiger, is a rare subspecies of tiger (P. tigris) confined completely to the Amur region in the Far East, where it is now protected. It is considered to be the largest of the nine recent tiger subspecies and the largest member of the family Felidae.
Distribution and population - The Siberian tiger is endangered. In the
early 1900s, it lived throughout northeastern China, the Korean
Peninsula, northeastern Mongolia and southeastern Russia. Today, the
majority of the population is confined to a tiny part of Russia's
southern Far East: the Amur-Ussuri region of Primorsky and Khabarovsky
Krai. There are very few tigers in northeastern China and fewer still
in North Korea. The South Korean population died out in 1922.
By the 1940s the estimated population was down to fewer than 50 in the Russian Far East, although some hundreds still populated neighbouring China. The number increased to more than 200 in 1982, although in China there are now thought to be no more than a dozen or so Siberian tigers. Poaching has been brought under better control by frequent road inspections. Captive breeding and conservation programs are active. The Hengdaohezi Feline Breeding Centre in the northern Heilongjiang province of China,together with its partner Heilongjiang Siberian Tiger Park in Harbin, plan to release 620 Siberian tigers after its numbers have increased from 708 to 750. A 1996 count reported 430 Siberian tigers in the wild. However, Russian conservation efforts have led to a slight increase, or at least to a stable population of the subspecies, as the number of individuals in the Siberian forests was estimated to be between 431 and 529 in 2005. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, the latest Russian Census reports put this number to be anywhere between 480 and 520 without including the small numbers of this subspecies present in mainland China.
Physiology - The Siberian tiger is typically 2-4 inches taller at the head than the Bengal tiger, which is about 107-110 cm (42-43 in) tall. Mature males reach an average head and body length of 190-220 centimetres (75-97 in). The largest male with largely assured references was 350 cm (138 in) "over curves" (3,30 m/130 in. between pegs) in total length. The tail length in fully grown males is about 1 m (39 in). Weights of up to 318 kg (700 lb) have been recorded and exceptionally large males weighing up to 384 kg (847 lb) are mentioned in the literature but, according to Mazak, none of these cases can be confirmed via reliable sources. A further unconfirmed report tells of a male tiger shot in the Sikhote Alin Mountains in 1950 weighing 384.8 kg (846.6 lb) and measuring 3.48 m (11.5 ft). Females are normally smaller than males and weigh 100-167 kg (220-368 lb),probably up to 180 kg (400 lb).
Reproduction - Siberian tiger cubSiberian tigers reach sexual maturity at 3 years of age. They mate at any time of the year. A female signals her receptiveness by leaving urine deposits and scratch marks on trees. She will spend seven days with the male, during which she is receptive for three days. Gestation lasts 3–3½ months. Litter size is normally 3 or 4 cubs but there can be as many as 6. The cubs are born blind in a sheltered den and are left alone when the female leaves to hunt for food.
Cubs are divided equally between genders at birth. However, by adulthood there are usually 2 to 4 females for every male. The female cubs remain with their mothers longer, and later they establish territories close to their original ranges. Males, on the other hand, travel unaccompanied and range farther earlier in their lives, thus making them more vulnerable to poachers and other tigers.