Could tigers survive in Africa?

Yes, tigers could survive in Africa because there are large areas where the habitat and prey is similar to that which is found in India and Bangladesh. I have tentatively argued that the reason why tigers are not in Africa is because at one time, millions of year ago, Africa was disconnected by water from the area where tigers were found which prevented them spreading to Africa.

Tiger in South Africa
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Tiger in South Africa

Tigers are primarily found in India, Bangladesh and Russia. They are also in Bhutan, 4,000 feet up.

A large part of the continent of Africa is dissimilar to say India in respect of habitat but there are areas in Africa where the habitat is similar to that found in India. Therefore certain parts of Africa would be very suitable.

However, the important point to make is that:

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“Tigers are not tied to a particular habitat type or temperature regime”

Tigers are content to live in a great variety of habitat types. They are flexible and adaptable. You can see the tiger in the mangrove swamps of the Sundarbans of Bangladesh and India and, as mentioned, at 4,000 feet in the snows of Bhutan in the Himalayas. You will also find tigers in monsoonal forests in Indo-Malaysia and the coniferous and birch woodlands of Siberia. Therefore in terms of habitat Africa does not present a problem for the tiger.

Tigers can also cope with a wide range of climates and temperatures. The tiger can cope with temperatures as low as -40 degrees centigrade despite mainly living in hot climates.

Another factor is the availability of prey. Tiger density (the number of tigers in an area) is dependent on the abundance of large terrestrial prey. The tiger needs large prey. Would there be sufficient prey for the tiger in Africa? Yes, on the face of it.

In terms of what nature has to offer the tiger could certainly live in Africa. However, we know that the lion population is rapidly diminishing in Africa because of increased human activity which reduces prey numbers and habitat. There is also trophy hunting of lions and other large animals. Further, farmers poison lions and other large wild cats to protect their livestock.

These detrimental factors which are all related to humans would quite possibly prevent the tiger’s ability to survive in Africa.

P.S. There would be an interesting clash between tigers and lions if tigers lived in Africa. They would fight for territory and prey. This brings to mind the eternally interesting question (to some) of which cat would win in a fight. My current research indicates that the lion would possibly win more fights than lose. If that were the case the tiger would also have to contend with predation by lions. But they might not necessarily be sympatric (share the same range) as they prefer different habitats. They’d probably avoid each other anyway. The biggest problem would be people.

P.P.S. In the past I figured that the tiger would win.


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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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4 Responses

  1. Nash says:

    I would disagree due to two factors predators aside from lions are considerably larger and aggressive and most work in packs and a tiger not being able to climb a tree is death. Tigers have trouble with Dholes avg. 60lbs at best and have killed tigers so to hyenas and wild dogs larger and more aggressive. The level of animal alone in Africa leaves a tiger out of its league. We know lions live in Asian do to pride mentality and possibly any where the wanted to. Tigers aren’t agile enough nor have necessary abilities like leopards to survive in Africa. Then you factor Elephants, water buffalo herds, rhinos, and Hippos. Unless Tiger became more like lions they would be killed off.

    • Michael Broad says:

      “tiger not being able to climb a tree is death”

      Wrong. Tigers are great climbers. They’d fair a well as leopards and better than leopards in Africa. Equatorial Africa has many forests, ideal for tigers. You have to be wrong in your assessment.

  2. W.Williams says:

    Tigers are not native to Africa, not because they couldn’t survive there, but due to their genetics. Had they the means to travel across oceans on their own they would have been native to Africa at well. Do try to educate yourself on evolution and how speciation works. It’s due to environmental barriers to their ability to migrate to other regions. No different than birds who are genetically given the flight-range to reach other islands and landmasses. Those with the genetic-given flight-range required to reach other landmasses, are NATIVE to those landmasses. This is why your house-cat “Felis catus” is not native to any landmass on earth. After having been selectively bred from native wild-cat species by humans (invented by humans, no different than some insect that was invented in some lab from other species) they could not have reached any other landmass except through artificial human intervention.

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