Sumatran Tiger

The Sumatran Tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) is found only on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The wild population is estimated at between 400 and 500 animals, occurring predominantly in the island’s national parks. Recent genetic testing has revealed the presence of unique genetic markers. They indicate that it may develop into a separate species, if it is not made extinct. This has led to suggestions that the Sumatran Tiger should have greater priority for conservation than any other subspecies. Habitat destruction is the main threat to the existing tiger population (logging continues even in the supposedly protected national parks), but 66 tigers were recorded as being shot and killed between 1998 and 2000. That is nearly 20% of the total population.

Physical characteristics

The Sumatran Tiger is the smallest of all tiger subspecies. Male Sumatran Tigers average 92 inches in length from head to tail and weigh about 300 pounds. Females average 78 inches in length and weigh about 200 pounds. Its stripes are narrower than other subspecies of tigers’ stripes. It has a more bearded and manned appearance, especially the males. Its small size makes it easier to move through the jungle. It has webbing between its toes that when spread, makes them very fast swimmers. It has been known to drive hoofed prey into the water, especially if the prey animal is a slow swimmer. Its fur has also been known to turn a dark green color when giving birth.


The Sumatran Tiger is only found in Sumatra. It is an island in Indonesia. It lives anywhere from lowland forests to mountain forest and inhabit many unprotected areas. Only about 400 live in game reserves and national parks and the rest are spread out in areas that are quickly being lost to agriculture. The reserves are not safe because despite conservation efforts poachers kill many tigers each year.


What a tiger eats depends on where it lives and how plentiful the prey is. They have very acute senses of hearing and sight so the tigers are very efficient hunters. They are solitary animals and they hunt at night. They stalk the prey slowly and patiently before attacking at the rear or sides. They eat whatever they can catch commonly wild boar and deer, and sometimes fowl, and fish. Orangutans could be prey, but since they spend a minimal amount of time on the ground, tigers rarely catch one.


Tigers can breed at any time of year, though they typically breed during the winter or spring. The pregnancy period is about 103 days. Normally they have 2 or 3 cubs, but can have as many as 6. The cubs are born with their eyes closed and weigh approximately 3 pounds (1.36 kg) each. Their eyes usually open by the tenth day, though some zoo born cubs have been recorded to have their eyes open at birth. They only consume milk for the first 8 weeks and after they can start trying harder food but still suckle for 5 or 6 months. The cubs first leave the den at 2 weeks old and learn to hunt at 6 months old. They can completely hunt for themselves at 18 months and at 2 years they are fully independent. They can live for about 15 years in the wild, and 20 in captivity.