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Species of the Week: The Malayan Tiger

Posted by on November 15, 2013


Malayan Tiger CubsIn 2004, the Malayan Tiger, was welcomed as its own subspecies after careful consideration of genetics and measurements from the closely related subspecies Panthera tigris corbetti, the tigers of Singapore. The Malayan Tiger is exclusively found in the Malay Peninsula, and there are estimated to be approximately 500 in existence. Unfortunately, tiger numbers continue to decrease.


The size of Panthera tigris jacksoni makes it the second smallest subspecies of tiger in the world. Males have average a weight of 118 kilograms while females are slightly smaller, averaging 100 kilograms. In comparison, the average human male weighs 88 kilograms. The recorded length of a female Malayan Tiger ranged between just under 1.8 meters to 2.6 meters long. The males are slightly longer measuring between 2 meters to just over 2.75 meters in length.


These tigers hunt many of the smaller indigenous creatures on the Malay Peninsula, including wild boar, deer and pigs. However, they have been known to go after larger prey such as young elephants and rhino calves. As more land is dedicated to cultivation, the tiger’s habitat is destroyed.


As of 2011, only 50 or so Malayan Tigers were located in North American zoos. Of these 50, they were all bred from 11 contributors. In order to create a genetic diversity for conservation breeding, more DNA needs to be added to the pool to avoid birth defects. If the subspecies is to survive in captivity, an infusion of fresh DNA will need to be added from other sources.


Poaching is a major threat for the Malayan tiger. Tiger bones are ground for medicinal purposes, and tiger meat and fur are considered delicacies and trophies. Currently, there are one to two tigers within any given 100 square kilometer area in the Malay Peninsula. This is actually an improvement from the 1970s when there was less than one tiger for every 200-300 kilometers due to poaching.

by guest blogger Nancy Parker

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