Continental tigers were once found throughout the Russian Far East, northern China, and the Korean peninsula. By the 1940s, hunting had driven the Continental 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.
Today there are an estimated 450 Continental tigers in the wild. They have the largest home range of any tiger subspecies because low prey densities mean they have to search over large areas to find food. This habitat, though, is under serious threat from large-scale illegal logging in the Russian Far East. In 2013, WWF released a report revealing that Russia’s forest sector has become deeply criminalized. A lack of law enforcement allows illegal loggers to devastate valuable timber stocks of oak, ash, elm and linden. The overharvesting of these trees limits the supply of pine nuts and acorns—the main food sources for Continental tiger prey.
Continental tigers are also under threat from poachers who sell their parts in the illegal wildlife trade. Today poachers in the Russian Far East are better armed, more organized and faster than their predecessors, and they often have international links.
WWF is on the frontlines working to protect Continental tigers and the exceptional forests they inhabit. Our scientists and experts are partnering with lawmakers, companies and communities to monitor tiger populations, strengthen anti-poaching operations, improve intelligence and law enforcement to eliminate illegal logging, protect habitat, increase prey populations, and raise public awareness.