Indochinese tiger

The Indochinese tiger is a small subspecies located on the Indochina peninsula. These mammals are fans of tropical rainforests, mountainous and wetlands. The area of ​​​​their distribution is quite extensive and is equated to the area of ​​​​France. But even on a territory of such magnitude, people managed to practically exterminate these predators.

Origin of the species and description

Photo: Indochinese Tiger

Photo: Indochinese Tiger

During the study of the fossilized remains of tigers, it was revealed that mammals lived on Earth 2-3 million years ago. However, based on genomic studies, it was proved that all living tigers appeared on the planet no more than 110 thousand years ago. During that period, there was a significant decrease in the gene pool.

Scientists analyzed the genomes of 32 specimens of tigers and found that wild cats are divided into six distinct genetic groups. Due to endless disputes over the exact number of subspecies, researchers have not been able to fully concentrate on the restoration of the species, which is on the verge of extinction.

The Indochinese tiger (also known as Corbett's tiger) is one of 6 existing subspecies, whose Latin name Panthera tigris corbetti was given to it in 1968 in honor of the English naturalist, conservationist and cannibal hunter Jim Corbett.

Earlier, Malayan tigers were classified as this subspecies, but in 2004 the population was brought into a separate category. Corbett tigers live in Cambodia, Laos, Burma, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Thailand. Despite the extremely small number of Indochinese tigers, the inhabitants of the Vietnamese villages still sometimes meet individuals.

Appearance and Features

Photo: Animal Indochinese Tiger

Photo: Animal Indochinese tiger

Corbett's tigers are smaller than their counterparts, the Bengal tiger and the Amur tiger. Compared to them, the color of the Indochinese tiger is darker – red-orange, yellow, and the stripes are narrower and shorter, and sometimes look like spots. The head is wider and less curved, the nose is long and elongated.

Average measurements:

  • males are 2.50-2.80 m long;
  • length of females – 2.35-2.50 m;
  • weight of males – 150-190 kg;
  • weight of females – 100-135 kg.

Despite their rather modest size, some individuals can weigh over 250 kilograms.

There are white spots on the cheeks, chin and around the eyes, whiskers are located on the sides of the muzzle. Vibrissae are white, long and fluffy. The chest and belly are white. The long tail is wide at the base, thin and black at the end, it has about ten transverse stripes.

Video: Indochinese tiger

The eyes are yellowish-green in color, the pupils are round. There are 30 teeth in the mouth. The fangs are large and curved, making it easy to bite the bone. Throughout the tongue are sharp bumps that make it easy to skin the victim and separate the meat from the bone. The coat is short and stiff on the body, legs and tail, on the chest and belly is softer and longer.

Powerful, medium height forepaws have five toes with retractable claws, and four toes on the hind limbs. The ears are small and set high, rounded. They are completely black on the back with a white marking, which scientists believe serves to scare off predators that try to sneak up on them.

Where does the Indochinese tiger live?

Photo: Indochinese Tiger

Photo: Indochinese Tiger

The habitat of predators extends from Southeast Asia to southeast China. Most of the population lives in the forests of Thailand, in Huaikhakheng. Small numbers are found in the Lower Mekong and Annam Mountains ecoregions. Currently, habitats are limited from Thanh Hoa to Bing Phuoc in Vietnam, northeast Cambodia and Laos.

Predators are the hosts in humid rainforests, which are located on the slopes of mountains, live in mangroves and wetlands. In the optimal habitat for them, there are approximately 10 adults per 100 square kilometers. However, modern conditions have reduced the density from 0.5 to 4 tigers per 100 square kilometers.

Moreover, the highest number is achieved in fertile areas that combine shrubs, meadows and forests. The territory, which includes only the forest, is very unfavorable for predators. There is little grass here, and tigers mostly eat ungulates. Their greatest number is reached in the floodplains.

Due to the close proximity of agricultural areas and human settlements, tigers are forced to live in places where there is little prey – continuous forests or barren plains. Places with favorable conditions for predators are still preserved in the north of Indochina, in the forests of the Cardamom Mountains, the Tenasserim forests.

Places in which animals managed to survive, hard to reach for humans. But even these areas are not a perfect habitat for Indochinese tigers, so their density is not high. Even in more comfortable habitats, there are contributing factors that have led to unnaturally low density.

What does the Indochinese tiger eat?

Photo: Indochinese tiger in nature

Photo: Indochinese tiger in nature

The diet of predators mainly consists of large ungulates. However, their population has declined too much recently due to illegal hunting.

Along with ungulates, wild cats are forced to hunt other, smaller prey:

  • wild boars;
  • sambars;
  • serows;
  • gaurs;
  • deer;
  • oxen;
  • porcupines;
  • muntjacs;
  • monkeys;
  • porcine badgers.

In areas where populations of large animals have been seriously affected by human activity, small species become the main food of Indochinese tigers. In habitats where there are very few ungulates, the density of tigers is also low. Predators do not disdain birds, reptiles, fish and even carrion, but such food cannot fully satisfy their needs.

Not every individual is lucky to settle in an area with an abundance of large animals. On average, a predator needs from 7 to 10 kilograms of meat daily. Under such conditions, it is unlikely that we can talk about the reproduction of the genus, so this factor affects the decline in the population no less than poaching.

In Vietnam, a large male, weighing about 250 kilograms, for a long time stole cattle from local residents. They tried to catch him, but the attempts were in vain. The inhabitants built a three-meter fence around their settlement, but the predator jumped over it, stole the calf and escaped in the same way. For all the time he ate about 30 bulls.

Character and Lifestyle Features

Photo: Indochinese tiger animal

Photo: Indochinese tiger animal

By nature, wild cats are solitary animals. Each individual occupies its own territory, but there are also stray tigers that do not have a personal area. In the presence of food on the territory, the lands of females are 15-20 square kilometers, males – 40-70 kilometers squared. If there is little prey in the perimeter, then the territories occupied by females can reach 200-400 square kilometers, and males – as much as 700-1000. The lands of females and males may overlap, but males never settle in each other's territories, they can only win it back from a rival.

Indochinese tigers are mostly crepuscular. On a hot day, they like to soak in cool water, and in the evening they go hunting. Unlike other cats, tigers love to swim and bathe. In the evening they go hunting and attack from ambush. On average, one out of ten attempts can be successful.

He immediately gnaws the neck of small prey, and first fills up large prey, and then breaks the ridge with his teeth. Vision and hearing are better developed than the sense of smell. Vibrissa are the main organ of touch. Predators are very strong: a case was recorded when, after a mortal wound, the male was able to walk another two kilometers. They can jump at a distance of up to 10 meters.

Despite their small size, compared to their counterparts, individuals of this subspecies are distinguished not only by great strength, but also by endurance. They are able to overcome huge distances during the day, while developing a speed of up to 70 kilometers per hour. They move along old abandoned roads laid during logging.

Social structure and reproduction

Photo: Indochinese tiger

Photo: Indochinese tiger

Males prefer to lead a solitary lifestyle, while females spend most of their time with their cubs. Each individual lives in its own area, actively protecting it from strangers. On the territory of the male, several females can get along. They mark the boundaries of their possessions with urine, feces, make notches on the bark of trees.

The subspecies mates throughout the year, but the main period falls on November-April. Basically, males choose tigresses living in neighboring areas. If several males are caring for a female, skirmishes often occur between them. To signal mating intent, tigers growl loudly and females mark trees with urine.

During estrus, the couple spends the whole week together, mating up to 10 times a day. They sleep and hunt together. The female finds and equips a den in a hard-to-reach place, where kittens should soon appear. If mating occurred with several males, there will be cubs from different fathers in the litter.

Pregnancy lasts about 103 days, as a result of which up to 7 babies are born, but more often 2-3. The female can reproduce offspring once every 2 years. Babies are born blind and deaf. Their ears and eyes open a few days after birth, and the first teeth begin to grow two weeks after birth.

Permanent teeth grow by the year. At the age of two months, the mother begins to feed the children with meat, but does not stop feeding them with milk until six months. Approximately 35% of babies die during the first year of life. The main reasons for this are fires, floods or infanticide.

At the age of one and a half years, young tiger cubs begin to hunt on their own. Some of them leave the family. Females stay with their mothers longer than their brothers. The ability to bear children in females occurs at 3-4 years, in males at 5 years. Life expectancy is about 14 years, up to 25 in captivity.

Natural enemies of Indochinese tigers

Photo: Indochinese tiger

Photo: Indochinese tiger

Due to their great strength and endurance, adults have no natural enemies other than humans. The young may be harmed by crocodiles, porcupine quills, or their own fathers, who may kill offspring so that their mother can go into heat again and be able to mate with her again.

Man is dangerous for wild cats not only because he destroys their prey, but also because he illegally kills the predators themselves. Often the damage is done involuntarily – the construction of roads and the development of agriculture leads to the fragmentation of the area. Countless numbers have been killed by poachers for personal gain.

In Chinese medicine, all parts of the body of a predator are highly valued, because they are believed to have healing properties. Drugs are much more expensive than conventional drugs. Everything is processed into drugs – from whiskers to tail, including internal organs.

However, tigers can respond to people in the same way. In search of food, they wander into villages, where they steal livestock and can attack a person. In Thailand, unlike in South Asia, there are few clashes between humans and tabbies. The last recorded conflicts were in 1976 and 1999. In the first case, both sides died, in the second, the person received only injuries.

Population and species status

Photo: Animal Indochinese Tiger

Photo: Animal Indochinese Tiger

According to various sources, there are from 1200 to 1600 individuals of this species left in the world. But the number of the lower mark is considered more correct. In Vietnam alone, more than three thousand Indochinese tigers have been exterminated in order to sell their internal organs. In Malaysia, poaching is the most severely punished and the reserves where predators live are carefully guarded. In this regard, the largest population of Indochinese tigers settled here. In other regions, the situation is at a critical level.

In 2010, according to video surveillance devices, there were no more than 30 individuals in Cambodia, and about 20 animals in Laos. In Vietnam, there were about 10 individuals at all. Despite the prohibitions, hunters continue their illegal activities.

Thanks to programs to protect Indochinese tigers, by 2015 the total number had increased to 650 individuals, excluding zoos. A few tigers survive in southern Yunnan. In 2009, there were about 20 left in the Xishuangbanna and Simao areas. Not a single large population has been recorded in Vietnam, Laos or Burma.

As a result of habitat loss due to deforestation, cultivation of oil palm plantations, habitat fragmentation occurs, the food supply is rapidly decreasing, which increases the risk of inbreeding, which provokes a reduced amount of sperm and infertility.

Indochinese Tiger Conservation

Photo: Indochinese Tiger

Photo: Indochinese tiger

The species is listed in the International Red Book and the CITES Convention (Appendix I) as critically endangered. It has been established that the number of Indochinese tigers is decreasing faster than other subspecies, since one death of a predator at the hands of a poacher is recorded every week.

About 60 individuals are in zoos. In the western part of Thailand, in the city of Huaikhakheng, there is a national park; since 2004, there has been an ongoing program to increase the number of individuals of this subspecies. The hilly wooded area on its territory is absolutely unsuitable for human activity, so the reserve is practically untouched by people.

In addition, there is a risk of malaria infection, so there are few hunters willing to poke their heads into these places and sacrifice their health for money. Conditions favorable for existence allow predators to reproduce freely, and protective actions increase the chances of survival.

Before the foundation of the park, about 40 individuals lived in this territory. Offspring appear every year and now there are more than 60 cats. With the help of 100 camera traps located in the reserve, the life cycle of predators is monitored, animals are recorded and new facts of their existence become known. The reserve is guarded by many rangers.

Researchers have hope that populations that do not fall under the negative influence of humans will be able to survive and maintain their numbers in the future. The highest probability of survival of individuals whose territory is located between Myanmar and Thailand. About 250 tigers live there. Tigers from Central Vietnam and Southern Laos have a high chance.

Due to limited access to the habitats of these animals and their secrecy, scientists are only now able to study the subspecies and reveal new facts about it. The Indochinese tiger receives serious informative support from volunteers, which has a beneficial effect on the implementation of conservation measures to preserve and increase the number of the subspecies.

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