Extinct Species of Tigers: Caspian Tigers and the Others

Tigers are the largest cats on the Earth. They are also known as big cats. This big and muscular animal has plenty of characteristics and adaptations. Due to their amazing adaptations, they are found in almost all regions worldwide. There are currently 9 species of tigers found all over the world. Each has its unique features and habitats. 3 of them have gone extinct. Today, our main focus will be on the Caspian tigers, an extinct species, but we will also learn some facts about the other two extinct species. Make sure to stick with us. 

Caspian Tigers

Extinct Species of Tigers

3 out of 9 species of them have completely gone extinct. Those three species are:

  • Caspian tigers
  • Javan tigers
  • Bali tigers

The other 6 species are also listed whether threatened or critically endangered. Mostly, because of human development, humans destroy their habitat so they are left homeless or food-less. These situations cause their deaths, most of them by starvation. Another reason is their hunting, but humans are also involved in this one as well. They do this to get their skins, teeth, and other body parts to sell them. The tiger population is really in danger due to humans, these activities have to be stopped or done sensibly to ensure there is no harm to wildlife otherwise all tiger species will go extinct. 

Caspian Tigers

These tigers have now completely gone extinct. None are left in the wild or captivity. It is believed that they went extinct in the 1970s but they were declared extinct by the International Union for Conservation for Nature (IUCN) in 2003. These tigers disappeared for an unknown reason from Xinjiang’s Tarim River basin around the 1920s. Then they disappeared from the Manasi River basin in the 1960s. Their last documented sighting came near the Afghanistan border in 1958 while they were last sighted in 1968 around the Aral Sea region.

Caspian Tigers

Interesting Facts About Caspian Tigers

Panthera tigris is the scientific name for them. They had some extra names which included the Balkhash tiger, Hyrcanian tiger, Turanian tiger, Mazandaran tiger, and Turanian tiger.  

These tigers were native regions including Eastern Turkey, Central Asia to Northern Afghanistan, Northern Iran, Xinjiang in China, Mesopotamia, and the Caucasus in the Caspian Sea. Their population was also found in Turkestan, Afghanistan, and Southern Russia. They used to inhabit the sparse forests and riverine corridors in these regions until the 1970s, after which they went extinct. 

Their fur was the most distinctive part of their body. It has a more yellowish-orange and uniform brighter than the other species. Their stripes were narrower and they were of brown shades. Their winter was more pallid with a less distinct stripe pattern while their summer coat was not that pallid.

Size and Weight

The male ones had a body length between 106 and 116 inches (270-295 cm) on average and their average weight was between 170 and 240 kg (370-530 lbs). The females had an average body length between 94 and 102 inches (240-260 cm) and they weighed between 85 and 135 kg (187-298 lbs) on average.

The skull size of a male tiger was between 11.69 and 14.40 inches (297-365.5 cm) on average while the female tigress had an average size between 7.70 and 10.06 inches (197.7-255.5 cm) of her skull. Their occiput was broader than some other species such as Bengal tigers. Due to their body sizes, they are ranked among the largest extant cat species of all time with the Siberian tigers

Well, if that’s not enough, there were some individuals with more exceptional sizes. In 1954, a tiger was found with a head-to-toe length of 2.25 m (7.4 feet) with a skull length of 15 inches, it weighed around 240 kg. But it was killed unfortunately near the Sumbar River in Kopet-Dag. In another incident in 1899, a tiger was killed in Prishibinske, it was observed that it had an immense body of length of 11.8 feet (360 cm), only his tail alone was 3 feet long, plus it had rather long fur.  

Last Sightings

In 1887, the last known tiger in Iraq was killed near the area of Mosul. In 1922, the last known tiger of Georgia was killed near Tbilisi. In 1920, the last known tigers just disappeared from the Tarim River basin in Xinjiang, the reason behind the disappearance is still unknown. In 1932, the last known tiger of Azerbaijan was killed by some hunters. 

In the area of Selcuk Turkey, a pair of tigers was killed in 1943. In the 1970s some tigers’ skin was found that indicate their presence in Eastern Turkey in the recent past. A survey held in these regions revealed that one to eight tigers were killed every year until the 1980s. No interest was shown by the Government or people so this survey was ended very soon. 

In 1953, Iran’s last known tiger was shot by the security in Golestan National Park. In 1954, the last one of the Turkmenistan was killed as well in the Suber River valley. The area between Afghanistan and Tajikistan is called the Piandj River area and was the stronghold of these tigers until the 1960s. The last tiger in that area was sighted in 1998. After that, these tigers went extinct. 

The last tiger of Kazakhstan was recorded in 1948 in the area called Lli River, which was the last known stronghold of these tigers in Balkhash. After that, no evidence or signs were found about these tigers living in these regions. 2003 was the time when these tigers were officially declared as extinct species. 

Extinction

Their extinction started in the 19th century with the Russian colonization of Turkestan. Factors behind their extinction included:

The large parties of sportsmen and military personnel which also used to hunt the wild pigs. Due to too much hunting, the wild pigs underwent a rapid decline. Through the process, natural disasters and diseases such as swine fever were caused, which later caused many tigers to die due to the diseases.

Through the years many habitats of tigers were converted to cropland for planting crops such as cotton etc. These crops grew well in the rich silt along the rivers.

Until World War I, many tigers had already become victims to hunters in the forests of the Amu Darya and Piandj Rivers each year. Their skins were sold at high incentives around 1929. The hunters used to destroy their natural habitat so more tigers came out and the hunters hunted them down with ease. 

By 1910, the cotton plants and the croplands had already destroyed one-fifth of their habitats in Turkestan’s Arable lands.

Other Extinct Species

The other two extinct species are the Javan and Bali. Both species went extinct because of too much hunting. One of the main reasons for their hunting was their distinctive appearance. Both of them had beautiful fur which attracted the hunters. Mostly, their fur was sold to make other humans usable products. 

Javan Tigers

The Javan tigers were native to the Indonesian islands of Java. They had such a big population on the Sunda Islands. Their natural habitats were converted for human use. The male Javans were 98 inches on average and their average weight was around 140 kg while the female Javans were around 80 inches in length and their average weight was 115 kg. 

Caspian Tigers

Bali Tigers

The Bali tigers were native to the Indonesian Islands of Bali. They went extinct around the 1950s, no signs of them were found during the 1940s so they were declared extinct. They were the smallest tigers to live on the Sunda Islands. The male Balis had an average length of 91 inches and an average weight of 100.  The female Balis were 81 inches in length and they weighed 80 kg on average. 

Bali Tigers

FAQs

What was the Main Reason Behind the Caspian Tigers Extinction?

One of the main reasons was their excessive hunting to get their skin and other body parts. Another could be the destruction of their habitats by humans. More or less, humans are the reason behind their extinction.

Which Body Part Attracted the Hunters of Tigers?

Tiger’s fur is the main attraction of the hunters. They hunt them to sell their skins. Their skins are used to make products that are usable by humans. 

Are All Tigers Threatened of Being Extinct?

Yes, all of their species are either threatened or critically endangered. Continuous human development is destroying their habitats. 

How Are Tigers Dying Mostly?

Most of the tigers are dying of starvation. Deforestation causes a lack of food for them, so they slowly die when they don’t eat for weeks.  

What’s So Unique About the Tigers?

They have many unique features but their stripes are a distinct one. All of them have different patterns of stripes on their body just like the human fingerprint patterns. 

Do Tigers Live More in the Captivity?

Yes, because they are provided with a balanced and healthy diet. Also, their activities are monitored and they are given proper care. That is why they live longer than the ones in the wild.