Amur (Siberian) tiger

The Amur or Siberian tiger is the largest sub-species of tiger and is primarily found in south-eastern Russia and northern China. In the 1960s it was close to extinction but its numbers recovered and are around 450 today. Poaching and habitat destruction once again push this tiger close to the edge.

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Amur tiger in the rehabilitation center of the wild animals "Utyos" near Khabarovsk ... rel=
Amur tiger in the rehabilitation center of the wild animals "Utyos" near Khabarovsk (located at the confluence of the Amur and Ussuri Rivers). Khabarovsk Krai Territory, far eastern Russia.
© Vladimir Filonov / WWF-Canon

Key Facts

  • Common Name

    Siberian tiger, Amur tiger; Tigre de Sibérie (Fr); (Sp)

  • Scientific Name

    Panthera tigris altaica

  • Status

    IUCN: Endangered D ver 3.1 CITES: Appendix I

    Read more

  • Population

    Around 450 individuals

  • Habitat

    Boreal forest

  • Weight

    180 to 300 kg

  • Length

    up to 300 cm

Back from the brink – but for how long?

In the 1940s the Amur tiger was on the brink of extinction, with no more than 40 individuals remaining in the wild.

Thanks to vigorous anti-poaching and other conservation efforts in Russia with support from many partners, including WWF, the Amur tiger population recovered and has remained stable at around 450 individuals throughout the last decade or so.

But poaching of tigers and their prey, increased logging, construction of roads, forest fires, and inadequate law enforcement continue to threaten the survival of this subspecies.

Population and Distribution

Amur tigers were once found throughout boreal forests in the Russian Far East, China, and the Korean peninsula.

The subspecies is now restricted to the Sikhote-Alin range in the Primorski and Khabarovski provinces of the Russian Far East, and possibly to small pockets in the border areas of China and North Korea.

Boreal forests, also called taiga, are northern temperate forests dominated by coniferous trees such as spruce, fir, and pine. They are bordered to the north by the treeless tundra and to the south by steppes.

These are amongst the coldest areas in the world. The high latitude means long winters where the sun does not rise far above the horizon.
Major habitat type
Boreal forest

Biogeographic realm
Palearctic

Range states
China, North Korea, Russia

Geographical location
Far eastern Asia

Ecological region
Russian Far East Temperate Forests
Amur or Siberian tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) on iced lake. / ©: Klein & Hubert / WWF
Amur or Siberian tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) on iced lake.
© Klein & Hubert / WWF
Brought back from the brink

By the 1940s, hunting had driven the Amur tiger to the brink of extinction, with no more than 40 individuals remaining in the wild.

The subspecies was saved by Russia becoming the first country in the world to grant the tiger full protection – and also by the Cold War, which saw the tiger's forest home completely closed off to most people.

By the 1980s, the population had increased to around 500. Despite an increase in poaching following the collapse of the Soviet empire, continued conservation and antipoaching efforts by many partners, including WWF, have helped keep the population relatively stable at around 450 individuals.

WWF was one of the organizations to support the 2005 Winter Survey of Amur Tigers, which found between 334–417 adults and 97–112 cubs.

This population is the largest unfragmented tiger population in the world. 
 / ©: WWF Amur Programme
Distribution of Amur Tiger 2009. (Panether tigris altaica)
© WWF Amur Programme

Maps

 / ©: WWF
Tiger range, former and current
© WWF

What are the main threats to Amur (Siberian) tigers?

Poaching of Amur tigers and their prey remains a problem. In addition, their forests are under threat from logging, conversion to agriculture, urban expansion, road construction, mining, fires, and inadequate law enforcement.

Illegal trade

The most immediate threat to the survival of Amur (Siberian) tigers is poaching to supply demand for tiger parts for use in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

The Cold War protected Amur tigers from hunting by closing off their forests to most people. However, the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s saw a poaching epidemic, mainly driven by Russia’s economic crisis combined with a relaxation of border controls and a ready access to the wildlife and traditional medicine markets of East Asia.

Habitat loss & conflict with people

The most significant long-term threat to Amur tigers is habitat loss and a decrease in prey due to human population pressure.

Amur tigers are also killed as a result of conflict with people.
Anti-poaching brigade in Lazovsky State Nature Reserve, which is now considered one of the most ... / ©: Vladimir FILONOV / WWF-Canon
Anti-poaching brigade in Lazovsky State Nature Reserve, which is now considered one of the most important nature reserves in Russia.
© Vladimir FILONOV / WWF-Canon

What is WWF doing?

WWF staff member Pavel Fomenko has helped catch up to 2,000 poachers in a single year. Watch this video as Pavel takes us through what his work entails in protecting the Amur tigers of Russia. Watch video

Projects that support this work:

 / ©: WWF Malaysia
Tx2 - we want to double the number of tigers in the wild
© WWF Malaysia

How you can help

Campaign with us

Draw the line / ©: WWF

Did you know?

    • The Amur tiger  is the largest of the tiger sub-species and the largest living big cat on the planet.
    • Of all tiger sub-species the Amur tiger population is the least fragmented.
    • Most Amur tigers are found in Russia, although there are some in China.

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