Scientific Name: Panthera tigris sumatrae
Like most wild cats, Sumatran tigers are solitary animals that live within marked, carefully guarded territory. Hunting begins at dusk and is by no means easy: tigers may travel more than 20 miles to find suitable prey, and will successfully catch their target only one out of every ten or twenty attempts.
The Tale of a Tiger
For the most part, these tigers are solitary, with the only basic social unit being the mother and her young. Males rarely associate with a specific female and may claim a territory containing several females. Territories are marked with scents on bushes or other plants; scratches on trees, or scrapes on the ground, which generally help to eliminate possible confrontations.
Mating typically occurs in winter or spring, and the mother will give birth to two to four cubs. She raises them alone and they will be totally dependent on her for food until about 18 months. At about two years the cubs will become independent, and will reach full maturity at about three and a half years for females and five years for males. Average life span is 15 years but they may reach up to 21 years in captivity.
Sumatran tigers are listed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Continued agricultural habitat destruction, poaching, and killing of tigers that come into contact with villagers, all intensify the crises surrounding tigers.
Sumatran tigers are found only on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. They require a habitat dense in vegetation in order to hide and ambush their prey, and a reliable source of water. They are often found in forested areas.
These carnivores prefer the small deer that are found in their habitat, as well as wild pigs. They will also dine on monkeys, birds, reptiles and fish. After eating its fill, the tiger may hide the carcass and return for additional feeding over several days.
The Sumatran is the smallest of the remaining subspecies of tigers. The male is slightly larger than the female with a more “bearded” appearance. They range in size from seven to nine feet in length and may weigh from 220 to 380 pounds. The coat is dark reddish-yellow with long black stripes, which provide camouflage in the dense forest. The front legs are muscular with large paws and sharp protractile claws. Their strong rear legs are designed for pouncing on prey, and webbing between the toes make this animal a fine swimmer. They rely on acute eyesight and hearing and a good sense of smell for catching prey.