Undoubtedly one of the most magnificent animals that walks the face of the planet today, the Siberian, or Amur Tiger is one of the largest cats to have ever lived, with males having been recorded near 3.5m long and weighing well over 300kg. While any sane person would point to the Tiger as being at the top of the food chain, as usual, mankind screws that up as well.
By the 1940s, hunting had driven the Amur tiger to the brink of extinction, with no more than 40 individuals remaining in the wild. The subspecies was saved by Russia becoming the first country in the world to grant the tiger full protection – and also by the Cold War, which saw the tiger’s forest home completely closed off to most people. By the 1980s, the population had increased to around 500. Despite an increase in poaching following the collapse of the Soviet empire, continued conservation and antipoaching efforts by many partners, including WWF, have helped keep the population relatively stable at around 450 individuals. WWF was one of the organizations to support the 2005 Winter Survey of Amur Tigers, which found between 334–417 adults and 97–112 cubs. This population is the largest unfragmented tiger population in the world. The most immediate threat to the survival of Siberian tigers is poaching to supply demand for tiger parts for use in Traditional Chinese Medicine, a ‘medicine’ responsible for damage to myriad creatures with it’s fantastical and unproven claims. It would be a crime of epic proportions if these animals were to join the three of the eight subspecies of Tiger that existed 100 years ago, in extinction.