The Bali tiger is one of the most beautiful and graceful predators of the cat family. They got their name due to their habitat – they lived exclusively on the island of Bali. A distinctive feature is the small size. Of all the species of tigers that have ever existed on earth, they were the smallest.
Along with the Sumatran and Javanese, they were representatives of the Indonesian variety of tigers. Unfortunately, today the Bali tiger, along with the Javanese, is completely exterminated, and the Sumatran tiger is on the verge of extinction. The last Bali tiger was killed by poachers in 1937.
Species origin and description
The Bali tiger was a representative of chordate mammals, belonged to the order of predators, the feline family, was allocated to the genus panthers and tiger species. There are several theories about the origin of this representative of the cat family. The first of these states that the Javanese and Balinese subspecies were one species and had a common ancestor.
Due to the last ice age, the species was divided by huge glaciers into two groups. As a result, one population remained on the island of Bali and was subsequently named Balinese, and the second remained on the island of Java and was named Javanese.
Video: Bali tiger
The second theory says that the ancient ancestor of the Bali tiger swam across the strait and populated the island of Bali. Many thousands of years ago, the island of Bali occupied a much larger area. It had all the conditions for living and breeding animals in natural conditions.
The territory of the island was covered with deciduous and tropical forests, had vast areas of river valleys and water basins. In this territory, the Bali tigers were full owners. They practically had no enemies among the representatives of the animal world and were provided with a source of food in large numbers.
The ancestors of this representative of the cat family had a much larger size and body weight. Researchers of the animal world claim that about 12,000 years ago the water level in the ocean rose significantly and separated the mainland from the island.
The animal, called Balinese, existed within the island until it completely disappeared. In 1912, the German researcher Ernst Schwartz was actively engaged in the study of character, lifestyle and external data. The description of spring data was compiled on the basis of animal skins and parts of the skeleton preserved in museums.
Appearance and Features
The body length of the animal ranged from one and a half to two and a half meters in males and from a meter to two in females. The body weight of the animal is up to 100 kilograms for males and up to 80 for females. Height at the withers 70-90 centimeters. These representatives of the family of feline predators have pronounced sexual dimorphism.
A distinctive feature of this subspecies is wool. It is short and has a pronounced orange color. Black transverse stripes. Their number is significantly less than that of other tigers. Between the transverse stripes there are spots of a round shape of a dark, almost black color. The area of the neck, chest, abdomen and the inner surface of the limbs has a light, almost white color.
The tail of the animals was long, reaching almost a meter in length. It had a light color and transverse black stripes. The tip has always been a dark brush. The body of the predator is taut, flexible with very developed and strong muscles. The front of the body is slightly larger than the back. The limbs are short, but powerful and strong. The hind limbs are four-fingered, the front five-fingered. Retractable claws were present on the limbs.
The head of the animal is round, small in size. The ears are small, round, located on the sides. The inner surface of the ears is always light. The eyes are round, dark, small. On both sides of the face is light hair, which gave the impression of sideburns. The cheek area has several rows of long, white vibrissae.
Interesting fact: The jaws of a predator deserved special attention. They were represented by a large number of sharp teeth. The fangs were considered the longest. Their length reached more than seven centimeters. They were designed to separate meat food into pieces.
Where does the Balinese tiger live?
This representative of the cat family lived exclusively in Indonesia, on the island of Bali, was not found in any other regions. As a habitat, the animals preferred forests, they felt great in the valleys of various reservoirs. A prerequisite is the presence of a reservoir in which they liked to swim and drank in large quantities after eating.
Balinese tigers could also exist in mountainous areas. Local residents noted cases when they met a predator at an altitude of about one and a half thousand meters.
- mountain forests;
- deciduous forests;
- tropical evergreen thickets;
- near the coasts of water bodies of various sizes ;
- in mangroves;
- on mountain slopes.
For the local population, the Bailey tiger was a mysterious animal, which was credited with special strength, power, and even magical abilities. In this area, predators could exist close to human habitation and often preyed on livestock. However, people were afraid of predatory cats and destroyed them only when they caused significant damage to the household.
It was unusual for animals to attack humans. However, in 1911, the hunter Oskar Voynich arrived in Indonesia. He, along with other members of his group, killed a predator for the first time. After that, mass persecution and killing of the beast began. Since the only place where the Balinese tiger lived was the island of Bali, it did not take long for people to completely destroy the animal.
What does the Balinese tiger eat?
The Bali tiger is a predatory animal. Meat food was the food source. Due to its size, dexterity and grace, the representative of the cat family had practically no competitors and was the representative of the highest rung of the food chain. Tigers were very virtuoso and dexterous hunters. Due to their coloration, they went unnoticed during the hunt.
Interesting fact: Long whiskers were used as a guide in space. Most often, they preferred to track down their prey on the paths near water sources, along which herbivores come to drink.
The tiger chose the most optimal and advantageous place for an ambush and waited. When the prey approached at close range, the predator attacked the prey with a sharp, lightning-fast jump, which sometimes did not even have time to understand what had happened. In the event of a successful hunt, the tiger immediately gnawed the throat of the victim, or broke her cervical vertebrae. He could eat prey on the spot, or drag it into the shelter with his teeth. If the predator failed to catch the prey, he pursued it for some time, and then moved away.
One adult ate 5-7 kilograms of meat per day. In some cases, they could eat up to 20 kilograms. Animals went hunting mainly with the onset of twilight. Hunted alone, less often as part of a group. Each individual had its own territory for hunting. For males, it was about 100 square kilometers, for females – half as much.
It was unusual for animals to lead a sedentary lifestyle. From several weeks to one and a half to two months, they lived in one territory, then moved to another. Each adult marked its territory with urine with a specific smell. The territory of the male could overlap the hunting territory of the females.
What served as a source of food for tigers:
- boars ;
- roe deer;
- wild pigs;
- large birds;
- small rodents;
Tigers never hunted unless they were hungry. If the hunt turned out to be successful, and the prey was large, the animals would eat up and not go hunting for the next 10-20 days, or even more.
Peculiarities of character and lifestyle
It was common for predators to lead a solitary, wandering lifestyle. Each adult individual occupied a certain territory, which was marked with urine, which had a specific smell. Most often, the territory of habitation and feeding of various individuals did not overlap, and if it did overlap, then males did not show aggression only towards females. Otherwise, they could get into fights and arrange battles for the right to own the territory. Animals lived in the same territory for several weeks, then looked for a new place to feed and live.
Interesting fact: predators were most active at dusk, at night. They went hunting alone, during the period of marriage they hunted in pairs. Group hunting was also possible when the female taught her growing cubs how to hunt.
Bali tigers were real lovers of water procedures. They enjoyed spending a lot of time in water bodies, especially in hot weather. Cleanliness was inherent in these predators. They devoted a lot of time to the condition and appearance of their wool, cleaned and licked it for a long time, especially after hunting and eating.
In general, the animal cannot be called aggressive. For all the time of existence on the island of Bali, the tiger has never attacked a person, despite the close proximity. The Bali tiger was considered an excellent swimmer, had very sharp eyesight and fine hearing, very dexterously and quickly climbed trees of various heights. I used whiskers as a guide in space.
Social structure and reproduction
The period of marriage and the birth of offspring was not confined to any season or season. Most often, cubs were born from late autumn to mid-spring. After the creation of a pair during the period of marital relations, the female became pregnant, which lasted 100 – 105 days. Mostly 2-3 kittens were born.
Interesting fact: The formed couple always prepared a place for the birth of babies. Most often, it was located in a secluded, imperceptible place at first glance – in rock crevices, deep caves, in a pile of fallen trees, etc.
The weight of one kitten was 800 – 1500 grams. They were born blind, with poorly developed hearing. The wool of newborns looked more like fluff. However, the kids quickly gained strength and grew up. After 10-12 days, their eyes opened, hearing gradually developed. The mother carefully and very reverently looked after her cubs, at the slightest danger she dragged them to a more reliable and protected shelter. Kittens fed on mother’s milk up to 7-8 months.
Interesting fact: Upon reaching the month, they left their shelter and began to explore the surrounding area. Starting from 4-5 months, the female gradually began to accustom them to meat food, taught them the skills and tactics of hunting.
The average life expectancy of one individual in natural conditions ranged from 8 to 11 years. Each newborn kitten was under the care and protection of the mother until the age of two. When the kittens were two years old, they separated and began to lead an independent lifestyle. Each of them was looking for a territory for independent hunting and living.
Natural enemies of the Bali tigers
When living in natural conditions, these feline predators had practically no enemies among the representatives of the animal world . Man became the main and main enemy, whose activities led to the complete disappearance of the subspecies of tigers.
At the end of the 19th century, Europeans appeared in Indonesia, among whom was Oskar Voynich. It was he and his team who shot the first Bali tiger in 1911. Subsequently, he even wrote a book about this event, which was published in 1913. From that moment on, sports interest and the desire to kill led to the complete destruction of the subspecies in just 25 years.
Locals, Europeans, aborigines uncontrollably destroyed animals in a variety of ways: they made traps, traps, shot, etc. After the complete destruction of animals, in 1937 people began to stubbornly destroy everything that reminded of the existence of the beast: museum exhibits, chronicles, animal skins and the remains of its skeleton.
Interesting fact: Some hunters noted that they were able to destroy 10-13 animals over the course of one or two seasons.
Today, all that remains of a beautiful, graceful predator is one photograph, in which the beast is depicted dead and suspended by its paws from wooden poles, as well as two skins and three skulls in the UK Museum. The predator had no other enemies besides humans.
Population and species status
To date, the Bali tiger is a predator of the cat family, which is completely exterminated by humans. Zoologists say that the first tiger was killed in 1911, and the last in 1937. It is known that the last animal killed was a female. From that moment on, the species is considered officially exterminated.
Interesting fact: Some scientists claim that in dense, impenetrable forests, a few individuals could survive until the mid-50s. Allegedly, this is evidenced by the testimony of local residents of the island. However, after the end of the Second World War, no one else could meet the Bali tiger anywhere else.
The main reasons for the extinction of the species are the destruction of their natural habitat, as well as barbaric, cruel and uncontrolled destruction by poachers. The main reason for hunting and extermination is the value and high cost of the fur of a rare animal. The Indonesian authorities banned the hunting of a predator too late – only in 1970. The tiger was listed in the Rare Animals Protection Act, signed in 1972.
Locals had a special relationship with the Bali shooting range. He was the hero of folk tales and epics, with his image they made souvenirs, dishes, and other handmade items of local residents. However, there were also opponents of the restoration of the population, who were distinguished by a hostile attitude. It was at the suggestion of such people that all traces and references to the predator were destroyed.
The Bali tiger was the embodiment of grace, natural beauty and strength. He was a skilled hunter and a very flexible, plastic representative of the animal world. Unfortunately, human error will never allow you to see him live again.