Malayan Tiger Fact File
Panthera tigris jacksoni
Credit: Tu7uh, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Wild 15 years
Captive 20 years
The Malayan tiger is one of the six living subspecies of tiger which can be found across Asia. As their name suggests they are restricted to peninsular Malaysia.
They are among the most endangered subspecies of tiger with their total population having dropped to between 250 and 340 individuals from 3,000 in the the 1950s.
Their decline is being driven by poaching to supply the illegal trade in tiger parts which are used in traditional medicines. They are also facing habitat loss and retaliatory killings due to their attacks on livestock.
These animals are expert hunters which will take down large prey such as deer and pigs.
Read on to learn more about these majestic mammals.
What does the Malayan tiger look like?
Malayan tigers are colored orange with thin black stripes which help to give them camouflage as they move through their habitat. On the underside their fur is colored white.
The stripe pattern found on each tiger is unique and can help to tell them apart.
Their ears have a white spot on the back. It is thought this provides a spot for cubs to focus on as they follow their mother through the forest.
At the end of the body is a long, thin tail which measures between 0.7 and 1.1m (2.3 and 3.6ft) long.
On their front paws these tigers have strong claws to help bring down prey. These are protected when walking by retracting them inside a fold of skin.
An average Malayan tiger will measure 2.4m (8ft) long with a weight between 100 and 120kg (220 and 246lbs). Males are larger than females.
What does the Malayan tiger eat?
Malayan tigers are carnivores. The majority of their diet is made up of deer and wild pigs. While these are the main prey they are opportunistic and will take any animal prey they can find. This includes birds, fish, small mammals and insects.
On rare occasions they are seen to take down larger prey than themselves including elephants, rhinos and water buffalo.
They are ambush predators which hunt prey in clearings and then drag it to a secluded area where they can eat without disturbance.
These tigers tend to only make a kill once or twice a week. They will eat as much as they can and then cover the prey so that they can return to it each day.
Credit: Nmwalter, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Where can you find the Malayan tiger?
Asia is the native home of the Malayan tiger. As their name suggests this species is restricted to Malaysia. Their range previously covered the forests of peninsular Malaysia but has since been severely reduced to habitat loss.
What kind of environment does the Malayan tiger live in?
These animals are found in areas of forest, shrubland and grassland.
These tigers will maintain a home range. The size of this is determined by the availability of prey. Where prey is widely available they will maintain a smaller home range.
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How does the Malayan tiger produce its young?
During the breeding season the females will scent mark to alert males that they are available to mate.
Following a 3.5 month gestation period the female will give birth to between 1 and 4 cubs. These rely on their mother for 18 months and may remain with her for 2.5 years.
At birth the cubs are blind. Their eyes start to open between six and twelve days old.
Cubs learn to hunt from a young age by chasing, ambushing and wrestling with their younger siblings.
Sexual maturity is achieved between 3 and 4 years old.
What does the Malayan tiger do with its day?
Tigers are mostly solitary and will only come together during the breeding season to mate. Males will use their scent to mark out their territory. His territory will cover that of several females.
These animals can communicate using a range of vocalizations include a chuff, growl, moan and roar.
Unlike many cats which avoid water tigers will actively seek it out. They drink regularly and are often seen lying in streams to cool down.
Credit: Angah hfz, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Predators and Threats
What is impacting the survival of the Malayan tiger?
Tigers are considered the apex predator in their habitat and face no natural threats.
The Malayan tiger is critically endangered with their numbers having declined from 3,000 in the 1950s to as low as 250-400 in 2013.
Their decline is being driven by a range of factors which include the trade in their skin, bones and meats mainly for the traditional medicine trade. In some areas tigers are farmed to supply this trade.
Forests where they live are being converted to agriculture.
In some areas these animals are targeted as retribution for attacks on livestock.
The Malayan tiger is the national animal of Malaysia.
These animals are one of the nine tiger subspecies with three of them being considered extinct. They were originally considered to be the same as the Indochinese tiger before being split in to their own sub-species in 2014.
Their scientific name, Panthera tigris ssp. jacksoni, is in honor of tiger conservationist, Peter Jackson.
Credit: Hans Stieglitz, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
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