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Indochinese tiger

December 11, 2017

Indochinese tiger

Picture: Panthera tigris corbetti (Tierpark Berlin) 832-714-(118).jpg
Lotse - Own work
CC BY-SA 3.0


The Indochinese tiger habitats are in Southeast Asia.
This population occurs in Myanmar, Thailand, Lao PDR, Vietnam, Cambodia, and southwestern China.

It has been listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List since 2008, as the population seriously declined and approaches the threshold for Critically Endangered.

The largest population unit survives in Thailand estimated at 189 to 252 individuals. 85 individuals in Myanmar and only 20 Indochinese tigers remain in Vietnam. It is considered extinct in Cambodia.

Tiger Population Estimates in Indochina

Country Minimum Maximum Reliability
Cambodia 10 30 Fair
Lao PDR 9 23 Fair
Myanmar 85 85 Fair
Thailand 200 200 Fair
Vietnam 10 19 Poor
Total 314 357


The Indochinese tiger is smaller than of the Bengal tiger and Siberian tigers;

The ground coloration is darker with more rather short and narrow single stripes.

Males range in size from 2.55 to 2.85 m (8.4 to 9.4 ft) and in weight from 150 to 195 kg (331 to 430 lb).

Females range in size from 2.3 to 2.55 m (7.5 to 8.4 ft) and in weight from 100 to 130 kg (220 to 290 lb).


Ecology and behavior

The Indochinese tiger is a solitary animal. Due to its elusive behavior, it is difficult to be observed and studied in the wild, so there is little knowledge about their behavior.

Indochinese tigers prey mainly on medium- and large-sized wild animals as Sambar deer, wild boar, and large bovids such as banteng and juvenile gaur comprise the majority of the tiger's diet.

However, in most of Southeast Asia, large animal populations have been seriously depleted because of illegal hunting, resulting in the so-called "empty forest syndrome".
In such habitats, tigers are forced to subsist on smaller prey, such as muntjac deer, and hog badgers.

Small prey by itself is barely sufficient to meet the energy requirements of the tiger and is insufficient for tiger reproduction.

This factor, in combination with direct tiger poaching for traditional Chinese medicine, is the main contributor in the collapse of the Indochinese tiger throughout its range.


Indochinese tigers mate throughout the year, but most frequently during November through early April. After a gestation period of 3.5 months. 

A female Indochinese tiger is capable of giving birth to seven cubs. However, on average a female will only give birth to three.

Indochinese tiger cubs are born with their eyes and ears closed until they begin to open and function just a few days after birth.

During the first year of life, there is a 35% mortality rate, and 73% of those occurrences of infant mortality are the entire litter. Infant mortality in Indochinese tigers is often the result of fire, flood, and infanticide.

As early as 18 months for some but as late as 28 months for others, Indochinese tiger cubs will break away from their mothers and begin hunting and living on their own.
Females of the subspecies reach sexual maturity at 3.5 years of age while it takes males up to 5 years to reach sexual maturity.

Their lifespan can range from 15 to 26 years of age depending on factors like living conditions and whether they are wild or in captivity. Due to their dwindling numbers, Indochinese tigers are known to inbreed, mating with available immediate family members. Inbreeding within this subspecies has led to weakened genes, lowered sperm count, infertility and in some cases defects such as cleft palates, squints, crossed-eyes, and swayback.


A tigress and her two cubs at Tierpark Berlin

Lotse - Own work
CC BY-SA 3.0


The primary threat to Indochinese tigers is mankind.
Humans hunt Indochinese tigers to make use of their body parts for traditional medicines.
In Taiwan, a pair of tiger eyes, which are believed to fight epilepsy and malaria, can sell for as much as $170. In Seoul, powdered tiger humerus bone, which is believed to treat ulcers, rheumatism, and typhoid, sells for $1,450 per pound.
In China, the trade and use of tiger parts were banned in 1993, but that has not stopped poachers who can earn as much as $50,000 from the sale of a single tiger’s parts on the black market.
Since 2006, the Yuzana Corporation's wealthy owner Htay Myint alongside local authorities has expropriated more than 200,000 acres of land from more than 600 households in the valley. Much of the trees have been cut down and the land has been transformed into plantations. These are areas of land that were supposed to be left untouched by development in order to allow the region’s Indochinese tigers to travel between protected pockets of reservation land. 


Throughout out all ecosystems they inhabit, tigers are a top predator. When a top predator is in decline or even totally removed from an ecosystem, there are serious consequences that trickle down through the food chain and disrupt the proper functioning of an ecosystem. 

At Tierpark


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