Siberian Birch Woodland – Siberian tiger habitat – Photo by Alex Can On (Flickr)
Amur (Siberian) tiger cub – photo by ucumari (one of the top 3 Flickr wildlife photographers, for me)
Khabarovsk – on the edge of Siberian tiger habitat – Photo by Borya
The article discusses the Siberian tiger habitat. This tiger is also called the Amur tiger, Manchurian tiger, or Ussuri tiger. The habitat and location of the habitat are part of the same subject and both are referred to in this article. You can click on the smaller images above to see what the habitat of this wildcat, the world’s largest cat, looks like in Siberia. The classic habitat is birch woodlands.
It is a rare subspecies of tiger (P. tigris). There are about 330-370 adult Siberian tigers left in the wild (at early 2009). Perhaps about 400 at 2011.
Its range is limited to the Amur region of Russia in the Far East (most are here), where it is now protected and China (very low population, 18-22) and possibly Korea. The region (i.e. distribution of this tiger) is shown on the map below:
Russia falls within this region. 95% of the population of this tiger is in Russia. Another area where the Siberian tiger was thought to exist but with little recent evidence was northern China. It was thought that about 20 existed in northern China. At early March 2010, there has been some good news reported in the Times newspaper (2nd March 2010).
A Siberian tiger cub, a naturally very precious animal, was found trapped in a woodpile in the snowy northeast of China. This is the first time the Siberian tiger has been seen in China for 60 years according to the Times author.
The cub was female and it was captured with the use of tranquillizers and taken to the local police station but died quickly. There is currently no report as to why she died. This is a sad loss but the good news is that this is evidence of the presence of the Siberian tiger in China, an area that can now be said to be a part of the Siberian tiger habit. I hope further work is carried out to establish the presence of more Siberian tigers in this region of China.
Within the regions in Russian where this tiger can be found is, for example, the area of Sikhote-Alin Zapovednik. Sikhote-Alin is a mountain range in Primorsky & Khabarovsk Krais. It is about 900 km to the NE of Vladivostok. “Zapovednik” refers to a protected area in Russia. These areas are kept wild. This is a map of the area Sikhote-Alin:
This is a picture of Central Sikhote-Alin, which is Siberian tiger habitat and a UNESCO World Heritage Site:
It is a temperate zone, where the changes in temperature between summer and winter is smaller than usual. There is no extreme hot and cold between these seasons. The reserve covers 3,985 square kilometers (985,000 acres).
The mountains of the area are densely forested with birch and conifers on higher slopes. On the lower slopes there is mixed deciduous forest. This area generally is one of the leading lumbering areas of the Russian Far East. Minerals are also mined in the area. No doubt outside the protected reserve these activities have a substantial negative impact on the Siberian tiger habitat and the tiger’s survival, therefore. The human population is sparse.
Fragmentation of Siberian tiger habitat
This has a major influence on the survival of the Siberian tiger. It was recently reported that that there are up 500 Siberian tigers but this population is behaving as if it was about 35 in terms of genetic diversity (src:news.bbc.co.uk). This is a serious situation as such a low effective population is vulnerable to extinction in the wild.
Update 27th Feb. 2011 – Sunday Times reports under the heading, “A Whisker Away From Extinction”, that the Siberian tiger has an uncertain future according to new research that concludes that “the genetic pool is too limited to sustain a healthy population”. The genetic base of the Siberian tiger is said to be less than I have previously stated. It is the equivalent of 14 individuals. The actual population is stable or climbing but genetically this tiger is almost extinct in the wild. The other tiger subspecies are going or have gone the same way.
An exacerbating factor is that the habitat, as mentioned above, is divided by human activity and development that creates two ranges, one in the Sikhote-Alin Mountains, where by far the larger population is (effective population of about 26-28 – now outdated, see above) and the other range being Southwest Primorye (Primorsky Krai) where the actual population size is about 20 but effective population size is 2.8 to 11. There is very little movement of Siberian tigers across the barrier.
The map below marks out these areas and shows a bit about the area. There is also a nice short video of a Siberian tiger and young wandering around the streets of a town at night. Just click on the blue flags for the videos and photo.
Please note: The map can be moved around in the window by holding down left click on the mouse and dragging the map. And if you place the cursor over the map and scroll with your mouse the scaling alters quickly. Click on the minus buttons to reduce the scale to see where this area is in relation to the world. And click on the flags for more. The green line encompasses the general range as set out by the IUCN Red List (the best source in my opinion). The Wikipedia range map is too wide and it seems outdated. Please note that wildcat ranges are shrinking year on year.
View Siberian Tiger Habitat in a larger map
Update 15th September 2010: A study by the University of Cambridge and published in the journal PLoS Biology has proposed that 42 key breeding areas are set up in contrast with the many reserves that exist at present and in which there are low tiger populations. It is suggested that the tiger populations in some current areas are too low and resources to protect the tiger too thin. In regards to the Siberian tiger habitat six key breeding areas are proposed, which are set out approximately on the map below1:
Photo of distribution of Siberian tiger and of the habitat: published under Wikimedia® creative commons license license = Attribution-ShareAlike License.
Photo of tiger: published under a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs creative commons License
- 1. Map based on Times Newspaper article dated 15th Sept. 2010