We can all be forgiven for thinking of Africa as the homeland of all animals, since our own origins stem from its lands. And indeed, the tigers’ ancestors did originate in Africa.
Our modern striped tiger, however, does not naturally live in Africa. You can quite easily find them in captivity, if you’re looking to lock eyes with one.
But that’s about it.
Read on to find the answers to all your questions about where these gorgeous striped mammals live.
Tigers in Africa
We’ve established that tigers are not indigenous to Africa, though we can all imagine them fitting in well here.
Actually, tigers, lions and leopards share a common ancestor. They are all part of the Felidae family of cats, which originated in Africa. Around 2 million years ago this ancestor migrated to Asia and evolved into the striped tiger.
Scientists don’t know exactly why, but they never migrated back to Africa after evolving and settling in Asia. It is speculated that the passing of time and subsequent tectonic movements and geographic boundaries made it impossible.
Whatever the exact reason, Africa has never been home to the modern tiger.
There are, however, quite a few living in captivity., particularly in South Africa. So if you’re in Africa and really want to see this huge cat, consider looking in at wildlife reserves.
After all, seeing a tiger on a game drive is perhaps your best shot at seeing these rare cats in a natural environment.
Your visit can also help further conservation efforts by putting money back into their rehabilitation and care. We all want to see more tigers in the world.
You can find the right safari for you on safarinear.com.
Where do Tigers live?
Tigers come from Asia. However, this is such a broad, all-encompassing statement, as Asia is such a huge continent.
There are nine subspecies of tiger, three of which became extinct in the 1980s. The remaining six subspecies all originate from within Asia.
Different types of tigers inhabit different areas.
The Bengal tiger is the subspecies most commonly found in the wild. Other subspecies include Sumatran tiger, Amur tiger, Indochinese tiger, South China tiger, and Malayan tiger.
There are not many visible differences between the different tiger types, but the countries where they live give us an idea of their species, since different countries have tigers endemic to that area.
The thirteen tiger range countries are: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand, and Vietnam.
So if you have a lifelong dream of seeing a tiger in its natural habitat, that’s where you’ll have to head to. Though don’t hold your breath, as there are so few of them left in the wild.
It’s best to steer clear of these big cats in the wild, for their sake and your own. After all, you don’t want to aid in the feeding of tigers quite so directly.
Habitat of Tigers
The Jungle Book got it right, tigers are mostly found in the jungles of Asia. They are also comfortable in mountainous areas, savannahs, grasslands, tropical rainforests, evergreen forests, snow and even in mangrove swamps.
In other words, they like spaces where they can sneak up on their prey.
After all, they are not as fast as their cousins, the cheetah. Nor do they hunt in packs, like lions. So although they are the largest and strongest of all big cats, they need to be close to their prey to really make use of their impressive attributes.
As we can see with the wide range of climates that tigers are comfortable in, they are very well adapted to their different climates.
Tigers sometimes make their dens in caves, dense vegetation and old trees. However, they don’t always have a den (or have multiple), and will happily sleep anywhere they feel safe when they get sleepy.
And they do get sleepy often. Tigers sleep between 16-20 hours a day. In comparison to the common housecat, which sleeps around 12 hours. They’re real loungers.
They also mainly sleep during the day and hunt during the night. Classic cat stuff.
Tigers do not live in packs, they are solitary animals. A mother will look after her cubs for approximately two years, and then those cubs must find their own territory.
Tigers have home ranges across which they roam, the size of which differs according to the availability of food. They do not patrol their ranges, but they do mark them with urine and faeces in order to warn other tigers that the area is inhabited.
A century ago there were as many as 100 000 tigers in the world. Today, because of extensive poaching, there are less than 4000 living in the wild.
While this number might seem dismal, being a 97% decrease in just 100 years, it’s actually progress. Conservation efforts have, according to the WWF, resuscitated numbers from as low as 3200 in 2010.
In 2010 Russia held a summit for the conservation of all six subspecies of tiger. Government leaders, advocacy groups, and donor states from around the world came together to make a plan of action.
The governments of the 13 tiger range countries set an ambitious goal, to double tiger numbers by 2022, the next Chinese year of the tiger.
While we may wonder if that goal will be accomplished, we can clearly see that the numbers are moving in the right direction. In our modern world of slashed natural habitats, anything that is not further loss might be taken as a success.
The increase in numbers also means that we do know what it takes to save tigers. Hopefully, many other animal species will follow suit.