The biggest feline of all cat species, the tiger is a majestic animal that is found exclusively in Asia. There are altogether nine subspecies of tigers, three of which are now extinct (Bali, Javan, and Caspian), and the six remaining ones being accorded the status of Endangered. These remaining six subspecies consist of the Amur, Bengal, Indo-Chinese, Malayan, South China, and Sumatran tigers. While it may be the smallest in size, the critically endangered Sumatran tiger is also the rarest of all the tiger subspecies.
Panthera Tigris Sumatrae Facts
The Sumatran Tiger or Panthera tigris sumatrae is the last remaining Indonesian tiger subspecies as the Bali and Javan subspecies are extinct. Sumatran Tigers have a range size of approximately 52 km2 for a tiger and 27 km2 for a tigress. In terms of habitat, the Sumatran Tiger can be found in tropical forests and peat swamps on the island of Sumatra. Here are some other interesting facts about this fascinating species.
1. Diet and Hunting
As an obligate carnivore, Sumatran Tigers hunt and prey on ungulates such as Malayan Tapirs, Wild Boar, and Sambar Deer, as well as smaller animals such as monkeys, birds, and fish. They may occasionally hunt Sumatran Orangutans, but this is a rare occurrence as the primates are largely arboreal.
Sumatran Tigers can run at speeds of up to 60 km/h, but only in short bursts. This is why they are ambush predators, stalking their prey until they are ready to pounce on it. At times, Sumatran Tigers may cover up to 28 kilometres in the distance in search of a meal.
Just like the rest of the tiger subspecies, Sumatran Tigers are solitary in nature. The exception is during courtship when a male and female will spend several days mating. A tigress has a gestation period of approximately 100 days before she gives birth to a litter of cubs (one to six). The cubs are born blind, and their eyes will open sometime between six to 12 days. Tiger cubs are completely dependent on the tigress and will stick to their mother for roughly two years before they become independent.
3. Importance of Sumatran Tiger
In ecology, it is vital to understand that every single organism plays a part in keeping the respective biotopes they are based in well balanced. Thus, the relationship between predator and prey is a vital one that needs to be maintained as predators such as tigers help prey on the old, injured, or sick animals, leaving more food for the survival and success of healthy prey animals. This is why the presence of the Sumatran Tiger is a crucial one, as it indicates how healthy the biodiversity and forests of Sumatra are.
With this understanding in mind, many organisations have begun to put more attention on protecting the remaining population of Sumatran Tigers and saving Indonesia’s last tiger subspecies. Activities like snare sweeping operations have been routinely carried out to clear snares that endanger the Sumatran Tigers. Other preventive initiatives, such as regular education programmes and training for communities or field workers that may encounter these tigers in their daily lives, are also made available.
According to the research and observations conducted by Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) Sinar Mas on the Sumatran Tigers, they are most active around early dawn or dusk, with stripe patterns that are unique to each individual tiger. In terms of the tigers’ interaction with humans in the region, they also tend to be very elusive, purposefully avoiding humans in their activities. Wildlife lovers would be pleased to know that since 2013, five tiger cubs have been born in Asia Pulp and Paper’s concession areas, thereby proving the potential for peaceful human-tiger relations to bear fruit and flourish.
Sumatran Tigers are an incredibly important species, and it’s crucial that we do what we can to protect them. By learning more about these magnificent creatures and the threats they face, you can be part of the solution. There are many ways you can help support the protection of these tigers, from donating to a reputable organisation to simply spreading awareness among your friends and family. Join the many advocates and continue reading about Sumatran Tigers as well as their fight for survival. Together, we can help make a difference.