Photo of the Month: Sumatran tiger

By Megan Runquist Holmstedt

Sumatran Tiger; PHOTO CREDIT: Jamie Pham

Sumatran Tiger; PHOTO CREDIT: Jamie Pham

Status: Sumatran tigers are listed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), with a wild population of 400-500 individuals. This perilously low number is due to high rates of habitat loss and fragmentation (as land is converted for agriculture), loss of prey base, and illegal hunting for the trade of tiger parts and as a result of human-tiger conflict.

Habitat: These big cats are found on the island of Sumatra in western Indonesia, just south of the Malaysian peninsula. They prefer areas close to water that are thick with vegetation, ranging from marshy swamps and lowland forests to the island’s mountainous tropical rain forests.

Diet: Tigers are carnivores, typically preying on the small- to medium-sized mammals like the monkeys, boar, and deer that share their habitat. They will also take birds, reptiles, and fish if the opportunity presents itself.

Sumatran tigers are the smallest of the six remaining subspecies of tiger; they can reach up to nine feet in length (from nose to the end of the tail) and can weigh between 220 to 350 pounds. This species has thinner stripes on its coat than other tigers, and males often have particularly long fur around their faces, giving them maned appearance.

The L.A. Zoo has a strong history with these endangered cats, producing three litters of cubs in the past 10 years. Three-year-old CJ, pictured above, is slowly being introduced to his new mate, a two-year-old female who arrived from Tacoma last month. It is hoped that they will become parents in the future, further bolstering the cats’ population.