Toggle Nav

Amur Tiger

Overview

  • Status
    Endangered
  • Population
    around 400
  • Scientific Name
    Panthera tigris altaica
  • Weight
    396 – 660 pounds
  • Length
    up to 10 feet
  • Habitats
    Temperate forest

Amur tigers were once found throughout the Russian Far East, northern China, and the Korean peninsula. By the 1940s, hunting had driven the Amur tiger to the brink of extinction—with no more than 40 individuals remaining in the wild. The subspecies was saved when Russia became the first country in the world to grant the tiger full protection.

By the 1980s, the Amur tiger population had increased to around 500. Although poaching increased after the collapse of the Soviet Union, continued conservation and antipoaching efforts by many partners—including WWF—have helped keep the population stable at around 450 individuals. The Amur tiger’s habitat is now restricted to the Sikhote-Alin range in the Primorski and Khabarovski provinces of the Russian Far East, and to small pockets in the border areas of China and possibly North Korea. The high latitude means long winters where the sun does not rise far above the horizon.

Amur tigers have the largest home range of any tiger subspecies because low prey densities means they have to search over large areas to find food. They represent the largest unfragmented tiger population in the world.

Amur Tiger Habitat Threatened by Illegal Logging of Russian Forests

Large-scale illegal logging in the Russian Far East is threatening the long-term survival of the endangered Amur tiger by destroying the species’ habitat. Around 450 Amur tigers remain the wild, scientists estimate.

Amur TIger

Why They Matter

  • The vast tracts of tiger forests in the Amur-Heilong landscape are unique. This region is comprised of Korean pine and Mongolian oak, which provide an important habitat for Amur tiger and its prey—as well as important economic resources for local communities.

  • Amur tigers share their home with critically endangered Amur leopards, musk deer and Himalayan bears roam with Siberian brown bears, wolverines and Siberian jays

Threats

  • Population around 400
  • Extinction Risk Endangered
    1. EX
      Extinct

      No reasonable doubt that the last individual has died

    2. EW
      Extinct in the Wild

      Known only to survive in cultivation, in captivity or as a naturalised population

    3. CR
      Critically Endangered

      Facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the Wild

    4. EN
      Endangered

      Facing a high risk of extinction in the Wild

    5. VU
      Vulnerable

      Facing a high risk of extinction in the Wild

    6. NT
      Near Threatened

      Likely to qualify for a threatened category in the near future

    7. LC
      Least Concern

      Does not qualify for Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable, or Near Threatened

Illegal logging operation, Russian Far East

Illegal logging operation, Russian Far East.

Illegal Wildlife Trade

The most immediate threat to the survival of Amur tigers is poaching to supply demand for tiger parts on the black market. Experts say a new breed of poacher stalks the tigers of the Russian Far East; they are better-armed, more organized and faster than their predecessors and often have international links. In 2010, suspected members of a Chinese poaching gang were captured by the Russian authorities after sneaking into a tiger sanctuary near the border. One of the suspects was dragging two big bags behind him as he stumbled through the snow. Inside the bags, said police, were two adult tiger skins and the bones of a tiger cub.

Habitat Loss

Tiger forests are at risk from logging, conversion to agriculture, urban expansion, road construction, mining, fires, and inadequate law enforcement. Illegal logging is widespread throughout the Russian Far East, which has major impacts because Korean pine and Mongolian oak provide critical food for the tiger’s prey during the snow season. When these trees are illegally logged, the prey populations decrease and negatively impact tigers. At least 30 percent of all Russian forest exports are tainted by illegal logging. The United States is the top importer of hardwoods harvested in the Russian Far East and manufactured as furniture in China. In 2010, the Russian government listed Korean Pine in Appendix III of CITES—requiring CITES permits for Korean Pine timber exported from Russia and making it harder for the illegal timber trade to continue.

Dark Forest, an undercover investigation of the timber mafia in Russia, put a spotlight on the high-level corruption prevalent in the system, allowing for illegal deforestation in protected areas and fake auctions in the Russian Far East. The documentary confirmed several WWF reports that revealed much of the logging in the region is illegal.

“Amur tigers are a success story in the making only if we can protect them from poaching and ensure their forest homes remain.” 

Dr. Sybille Klenzendorf Managing Director, Species Conservation Program

What WWF Is Doing

Amur Tiger

This native Ugdege antipoaching patrol member patrols the Bikin river basin forests that shelter tigers and Amur leopards in the Russian Far East.

WWF’s Amur tiger conservation work focuses on the Amur-Heilong landscape, which straddles the border between northeastern China and the Russian Far East. 

Strengthening Transboundary Protected Areas

WWF helped develop a Tiger Eco-Net, which is a network of protected areas that will become a connected habitat for tigers. We worked to help create a training and education center on the Russia-China border, where customs officials learn how to effectively control the movement of natural resources across the border.

Monitoring Populations

WWF supports monitoring efforts across the Amur in both Russia and China. In November 2011, a wild Amur tiger was captured on camera for the first time in an area of northeast China—a key finding for the breeding and resettlement of the tiger population in the region.

Protecting Habitats

WWF has been instrumental in securing tiger habitat in the Russian Far East and China. The protected habitat includes officially protected areas and conservation leases that secure a continuous landscape for tigers. We also help attain sustainable certification for millions of acres of the region’s forests, especially to sustainably manage Korean Pine and Mongolian Oak.

Increasing Tiger Prey

WWF works with hunting communities to protect tiger prey species like deer and wild boar. Hunting quotas, vaccination against disease, and supplementary feeding during the harshest weeks of winter help ensure tigers will not go hungry. Model hunting estates have been created to increase the number of wild ungulates such as boar and deer. In China we are piloting a program of deer release to restock prey populations. As a result, the number of tigers has increased substantially in these areas. The practice is now being widely replicated in other areas.

Advocating for Improved Legislation

WWF advocates for stronger logging and hunting laws as well as their enforcement. We help train and equip staff in the protected areas, support antipoaching brigades, and train customs agents across the region to reduce illegal trade.

Raising Public Awareness

WWF strives to spread the word about the importance of a healthy Amur tiger population. We educate deer hunters on how to hunt responsibly and on how to behave if they encounter tigers in the wild. WWF also co-organizes annual "Tiger Day" celebrations in Vladivostok and in villages all across Primorskii Province to get communities involved in tiger conservation. 

Experts

Related Species

xHelp Improve this Site

Just 20 minutes of your time can help improve this site. By participating in a quick activity, you can help us make worldwildlife.org even better.

Start SurveyClose this box