General Characteristics
The Siberian Tiger is the largest of the cat species. Its coat is longer and softer than that of other tigers, with its fur is a pale orange colour, much lighter than other tiger species. Its stripes are brown, rather than black, and are widely spaced. No two tigers have the same pattern of stripes. The tiger has a white chest and belly and a thick white ruff of fur around its neck. The tail length is usually between 60 - 95cm long.

Males can grow up to 3.3 metres long and weigh up to 300 kilograms, whereas females are smaller, measuring about 2.6 metres from head to tail and weighing about 100 - 165 kilograms. When angry, their voices are a short roar, yet they let out a growl or loud woof when surprised. A tiger's roar is so loud that it can be heard 2 miles away. The animal can run up to 30 miles an hour and can jump over a classroom in one leap.

Habitat and Environment
The Siberian Tiger lives in Siberia, North Eastern China and Manchuria. It lives in mountainous snowy areas and great conifer forests. The tiger is a nocturnal animal and is very careful about choosing a place to live. A home for one of these animals needs to have a lot of open space, food and water. Like many animals, water is important to these tigers. They are great swimmers and like to take cool dips when the weather becomes too hot for them to cope with.

The Siberian Tiger marks it territory by spraying urine on trees, just like a dog might do. If another tiger comes along, he/she knows that it is another tiger's territory by the scent. This territory will usually measure about 52 square kilometres, depending on the amount of prey available. Due to the stripy pattern on their coats, they are able to camouflage very well.

This fast moving carnivore often kills its prey with a bite to the neck. It feeds on deer, wild pigs, antelope, cattle, young elephants and buffalo. The Siberian Tiger is a solitary animal and only prefers to remain in the presence of other tigers during mating season. Sadly, there are only 400 Siberian Tigers living in the wild today. They are an endangered species.

In 1972, Project Tiger was established to protect not only the tiger, but the habitat and prey which it relies on. At the start of the project, eight reserves were established and, since that time, eighteen more have been created. Controls were placed on destructive grazing of livestock, and antipoaching teams were trained and installed. There are many tiger parks and reserves where no poaching, hunting or killing of the prey is allowed. Some private and governmental efforts have been directed at saving tiger species .

One immediate approach is to protect a species by legislation. For example, laws were enacted in the United States in the early 1900s to protect wildlife from commercial trade and overhunting. In 1973 the Endangered Species Act provided mechanisms for the conservation of ecosystems on which endangered species depend; it also discouraged the exploitation of endangered species in other countries by banning the importation and trade of any product made from such species.

Efforts to save endangered species also include the propagation of breeding stock for release in the wild, either to restore a breeding population or increase its numbers. It is up to humans to do what they can, before it is too late. If we continue to hunt and destroy the habitats that the Siberian Tiger lives in, it will only be a matter of time before the it becomes extinct like many other tiger species. The same case goes for many endangered animals in the world today.

An Endangered Species
Adult Siberian Tigers do not have many enemies, however they can get hurt when they hunt by getting cut or kicked. Although, it is unusual for their prey to injure them. People are the tigers' most dangerous enemy. It has often been valued as a big gaming trophy, and its beautiful skins have sold for as much as US$4,250. These and a few other factors have pushed the tiger to the edge of extinction.

While persecution and hunting have played a major role in the decline of the tiger, habitat destruction is the single greatest threat to the survival of this cat. The expansion of human populations, deforestation, elimination of natural prey, and increased use of land for agricultural purposes have been major problems for all tiger species. As countries develop and try to accommodate ever increasing human populations, wilderness is turned into agricultural or residential land.

When humans go to war, people are not the only living things that suffer. Especially in Asia, the tiger has been the victim of change and progress. Over time, man has hunted preyed animals like deer and buffalo, which resulted in not enough food remaining for the tiger population. People have also cut down trees in the animals' habitat and hunted them for their beautiful fur.

Chances of Survival
If you haven't yet realised, humans are to blame for this beautiful creature being placed onto the endangered list. Humans have hunted them, destroyed their habitat and cut down the food on which they feed on. We do not kill humans for their hair or skin, so, even though tigers are not on the same level as humans, they deserve to live their own happy lives. On a lighter note, thanks to recent efforts (like the formation of Project Tiger), I think that the Siberian Tiger stands a relatively good chance of survival, providing people keep abiding by the rules and laws that have been set in place to improve the situation.

Already the number of tigers has slowly increased thanks to breeding programs and tiger reserves. If these intense breeding programs, which allow the tigers to be released in the wild, are kept running, the next step is to protect the habitat in which they live in.

References cited:
Microsoft Corporation, Encarta Encyclopedia 99, 1999, Microsoft
M, Cavendish, Endangered Wildlife of the World, 1993, New York
L, DuTemple, Tigers, 1996, USA, Lerner Publications Company
World Book Encyclopedia. (International) 1997, USA
Encyclopedia Britannica, Volume 2, 1998, USA

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