Are tigers endangered?
Yes, there were once nine subspecies of tigers in Asia. Three (Balinese, Caspian and Javan) have gone extinct. Six subspecies of tigers survive today. The Amur, Bengal and Indochinese tigers are considered endangered, and the Malayan, South China and Sumatran tigers are considered critically endangered. They are threatened by habitat loss, as cities and farmland expand into their territories, and are often killed when they come into conflict with humans. These big cats are also illegally poached for use in traditional medicines.
One Sumatran tiger and two Amur tigers live at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, where they are part of the Species Survival Program, or SSP, which works to responsibly breed and manage tigers within accredited institutions throughout North America. It’s estimated that only 200 to 400 Sumatran tigers and 360 Amur tigers still survive in the wild. The SSP, managed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, aims to sustain a healthy, genetically diverse population in human care.
How do tigers hunt?
Tigers are ambush predators that rely on their stealth and strength to take down prey. They mostly hunt at night, lying in wait for an animal to pass by and then pouncing at just the right moment. They quickly take their prey to the ground, where they break or bite its neck with their powerful jaws and sharp teeth. Tigers typically hunt wild boar, deer and other ungulates (hoofed animals), but they have also been known to eat monkeys, buffalo, sloth bears, leopards and even crocodiles!