With all jokes about pleasingly plump house cats aside, the biggest cat in the world is the Siberian Tiger. The only wild population of this tiger left in the world can be found in North Eastern China, the Amur region in Russia’s far east and a very few in North Korea. The total population of all the Siberian Tigers, both wild and in captive breeding programs is less than 600, classifying them as Critically Endangered by the IUCN. An adult male can weigh up to 320 kg, but recent breeding programs have noted the Siberian Tiger’s weight to average 215 kg.; still not a creature I would want to run into on a dark night.
Siberian tigers face two very strong threats to their survival; the first is illegal poaching. A tiger can sell for up to $50k on the black market. It is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for its bones and other body parts, although there has been no scientific evidence that tiger parts have any medical healing properties. Both China and Russia have instituted measures to protect the Siberian Tiger, but resources are needed to stop illegal poaching. The second major threat to the Siberian Tiger is habitat destruction. Deforestation threatens the prey upon which the tiger survives; mainly deer and wild boar. A full grown tiger can eat as much as 27 kg of meat in one night, making habitat destruction a real problem.
The Species Survival Plan is breeding Siberian Tigers in captivity with the hopes of eventually releasing them into the wild. There are over 200 tigers involved in this program; 160 of them are Siberian Tigers, so there is some hope of species recovery.
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