Caspian Tiger

by Michael
(London, UK)

I am not going to write a lot about the Caspian tiger because it is an extinct tiger that never existed . Other names are: Hyrcanian Tiger, Turan Tiger. The scientific name: formerly Panthera tigris virgata (this would seem to be redundant).

This is a tiger that happened to live in an area that abutted the Caspian Sea and which extended east to eastern China – see map below; it is not a separate species or subspecies it has been decided (by researchers from Oxford University) as a result of DNA testing in 2009 “from 20 Caspian tiger specimens kept in museums across Eurasia”. More precisely it…

“ only one letter of genetic code separated from Siberian Tiger DNA”

The latest information from the Red List of Threatened Species™ (Red List) website conflicts slightly in that it states that this tiger was accepted as a subspecies “by Mazak (1981)”. They do say that it is genetically close to the Amur tiger (Siberian tiger).

People ask, “why did the Caspian tiger become extinct”. To mull over and trawl through the debris of this wonderful cat is not healthy unless it is to learn why. But we have failed to learn as the Bengal tiger is sliding towards extinction. However, briefly, the extinction of Caspian tigers seems to be largely due to a deliberate extermination by Russia:

The Russian government had worked heavily to eradicate the Caspian tiger during planning a huge land reclamation program in the beginning of the 20th century…(Wikipedia®)

Of course, the so called Caspian tiger didn’t only inhabit an area immediately east of the Caspian Sea so in the areas outside of the control of the USSR (at that time), both hunting and the usual reasons are to blame for the extirpation of this tiger, namely: habitat loss, prey loss, deforestation, fragmentation of habitat and trade in body parts (poaching) etc.

Although the Red List says that the last of this species (non-species) was seen in the early 1970s, there has been talk of this cat existing up until the 1990s:

The Caspian tiger is likely to have existed in the region Eastern Turkey at least until the early 1990s……(Wikipedia®)

People search for “pics of Caspian tigers”. There are none except for cats long dead and captive or drawings or stuffed ones and they all look like the Siberian tiger. It is thought that the tiger generally originates in Siberia and it migrated south and west (to as far as the Caspian Sea). The pictures below are of the Caspian tiger and are ones seen regularly as they are so scarse.

The two pictures on the right are from the Berlin Zoo in 1899 and on the left is a drawing. All are reproduced under a Wikimedia Commons license.

Where Did the Caspian Tiger Live?

The map below answers this question. It is based on one prepared by the Wikipedia author Tommyknocker. Although, I am not sure of its worth or accuracy.

Map Channels: free mapping tools

The tiger range once extended across Asia as far east as Turkey and the Caspian Sea. This large range of habitats are evidence of how the tiger can cope with a with a range of environments and climates. The range of the tiger generally is now hugely reduced. Other areas from which the tiger is now extinct are:

  • Turkey
  • Northern Iran
  • Afghanistan
  • Indus Valley of Pakistan

Below is the text from Historical and descriptive account of British India by Hugh Murray, James Wilson, Robert Kaye Greville, Robert Jameson, Sir Whitelaw Ainslie, William Rhind, William Wallace, Clarence Dalrymple – History – dated 1832

text of old book on the tiger range or distribution

People also search for “Caspian tigers versus Barabry lion”. People probably mean “Barbary”. As the Caspian tiger is effectively a Siberian tiger, which still exists, albeit in very vulnerable numbers, I can refer to a page I prepared on the Lion vs Tiger in which I decided that the tiger would win. Also see, Siberian Tiger Habitat and Siberian Tiger Pictures.

The Red List make the interesting suggestion that the Caspian tiger could be reintroduced (at least theoretically) into the area that it originally inhabited as it is so close, genetically, to the Amur tiger (Siberian tiger) that still exists. The problems, though, would be the same as before plus the population size of the Siberian tiger is already dangerously low and what kind of population size is needed to be sustainable? I have read it should be at least 500. Is it viable to create a population of 500 Caspian tigers in the Caspian area going east? No. Not in today’s world, anyway.

This wild cat preyed on large hooved animals as does the extant tiger.

From Caspian Tiger to Wild Cat Species

Sources as stated and Wild Cats Of The World by the Sunquists

Comments for
Caspian Tiger

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Apr 24, 2011 indonesian tigers
by: Anonymous i know the probably the closes to the extinct javan and bali tigers is the sumatran tiger. they’re probably not much of a difference in a genetic codes.

Apr 24, 2011 tiger in bali reintroduction
by: Anonymous if they could someday reintroduce tigers in central asia they should have also them in java and bali island off of indonesia.

Apr 15, 2011 Depends
by: Michael It would seem to depend on what tiger species was there first.

If the Siberian tiger originates from the Caspian then you are correct.

It seems that both the Siberian tiger and Caspian tiger which are the same subspecies genetically, originate from a tiger species that migrated from Eastern China.

In which case you can take your pick whether you call the Caspian tiger a Siberian tiger or a Siberian tiger a Caspian tiger.

Maybe they should be called a different name? The Caspian tiger has been called the Turan tiger or Persian tiger, Turanian tiger, Mazandaran tiger, or Hyrcanian tiger.

The conservationists are planning to import some Siberian tigers from the Amur region of Russian to the Caspian, specifically Kazakhstan.

Oct 11, 2010 ?genetics?
by: Anonymous you may have your facts inverted, the siberian tiger is the one who never exsisted.

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Caspian Tiger — 1 Comment

  1. I am not sure where you are getting your info, but good
    topic. I needs to spend some time learning much more or
    understanding more. Thanks for magnificent information I was looking for
    this information for my mission.

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