One of the smallest of the tiger subspecies and the national animal of Malaysia, the Malayan Tiger has had its population on a constant downswing for the majority of the twentieth century. Once thought to be the same species as the Indochinese tiger, it was separated into a distinct subspecies in 2004.
Table of Contents
Malayan Tiger Scientific Classification
|Panthera tigris tigris|
Table Of Content
Table of Contents
|Panthera tigris tigris|
Head-to-tail length – Males average 8ft 6in (259cm) and females average 7ft 10in (239cm).
Height – Males reach heights of 2ft-3ft 9in (61-114cm) on average, while females are 1ft 11in-3ft 5in (58-104cm).
Weight – Male weigh between 104 and 284.7lb (47.2-129.1kg) and females average 52-195lb (24-88kg).
Pelage – They have white to creamy undersides, orange back, sides, face, and tail, there are black stripes on the body, face, and tail.
The Malayan tiger lives in dense tropical forests of peninsular Malaysia.
Malaysian states of Pahang, Kelantan, Terengganu, and Perak. Historically tigers were also found in the states of Perlis, Malacca and federal territories of Putrajaya and Kuala Lumpur.
- Malayan tigers are solitary animals, except for associations between individuals of both sexes at the time of mating as well as the mother and her cubs.
- They are nocturnal animals, spending most of the day sleeping or traveling across their territories.
- These territorial animals do not tolerate the appearance of a member of the same sex within their bounds. Male tigers have territories larger than that of females, and one male may have more than one female within its area for mating purposes.
- Like other tiger species, they are excellent swimmers and may spend a large part of its day in a shallow water body during the daytime heat.
Mating and Reproduction
While males reach sexual maturity at about 5 years of age, females become sexually mature much sooner at about 3. Malayan tigers may mate year round, but the females attain estrus between November and March. The Malayan tiger’s aggression during the mating sessions is a typical big cat mating behavior. Their gestation period ranges between 100 and 105 days after which a litter of 3 to 4 cubs are born.
Cubs are born without eyesight and in a helpless state. They are fed milk for the first 2 months of their life, after which they begin living on meat and also begin accompanying their mothers on hunting trips.
The mortality rate for infant Malayan tiger cubs is rather high, with less than 50% juveniles getting past 2 years of age.
They live for around 15-20 years in the wild.
Sounds and Communication
Malayan tigers communicate through an array of vocalizations, including chuffs, moans, growls and roars. Scent marking is another prime method of non-visual and non-auditory communication between two tigers.
Mother Malayan tigers may rub their heads on the heads of their cubs as a comforting gesture.
Malayan tigers are obligate carnivores, with their diet consisting of deer, wild boar, cattle, and sun bear.
- The pelage of the Malayan tiger lends itself to camouflage, helping it to stalk and creep up on its prey, without the latter even realizing that something is afoot, until the final attack.
- Being nocturnal, their eyesight is such that they can see as well during the night as they can during the day. This, in conjunction with the fact that most of their preys do not have such gifted eyesight, helps the former to catch the latter with relative ease.
Being the apex predator, it sits at the top of the ecological food chain without having any natural predators in the wild.
IUCN Conservation Status
The IUCN Red List has categorized the Malayan tiger as ‘Critically Endangered’. Years of having its habitat cut down and encroached upon by human settlements have left the Malayan tiger numbers in a sorry and dwindling state with just about 250-340 adult individuals in the wild.
In 2002, a state government of Malaysia had decided to get rid of the tigers but was intervened by the WWF and could not execute their plan.
Conservation efforts are underway to get the Malayan tiger out of danger of becoming extinct, but it is a steep climb uphill.
- The stripe patterns of no two Malayan tigers are the same, they are like human fingerprints, with each individual with a different pattern.
- The Malayan tiger is the second smallest of the tiger subspecies after the Sumatran tiger.
- Its scientific name of P. t. jacksoni was given to honor the famous tiger conservationist Peter Jackson. However, in Malaysia, the scientific name Panthera tigris malayensis is used instead to emphasize the Malayan tiger’s geographic location and availability.
- A Malayan tiger recently mauled and killed a zookeeper at a Florida zoo.
- They can run at speeds of up to 35-40miles/hour, in short bursts.