Beautiful, stealthy, and at the top of the food chain is the Malayan Tiger. Now although it’s well-known that these gorgeous beasts are endangered animals, do we really know much about our own Malayan Tiger? In conjunction of International Tiger Day, here are 11 fun facts about our national pride!
1. Its scientific name is not recognized locally
The international scientific community recognizes this tiger as the Panthera Tigris Jacksoni, but the Malaysian Association of Zoological Parks and Aquaria (MAZPA) recognize this tiger as the Panthera Tigris Malayensis.
2. It is NOT an Indochinese Tiger
Before 2004, the Malayan tiger was known as a subspecies of the Indochinese tiger, the Pantheratigriscorbetti, but it has been reclassified as a species on its own.
3. It swims!
The Malayan tiger enjoys swimming, and playing in shallow rivers and lakes. They are able to cross shallow streams by swimming whilst keeping its head above water.
4. Locals called it Pak Belang
Of course we Malaysians need a nickname for everything, these beasts included. The direct translation of its nickname is “Uncle Stripes”. Wow, so creative.
5. They can take down elephants
Whilst they will gladly enjoy a buffet of sambardeers, wild boars, bearded pigs, goats and more… they can also take down elephants. They are also known to feed on livestock which can be really problematic for local farmers.
6. They Malayan tigers are critically endangered
Unsurprisingly and most unfortunately, the most beautiful and unique creatures tend to be hunted down. According to the WWF, there are only 250-340 of them left in the world, and is recognised as an ‘endangered species’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
7. It is born blind
Baby tigers (a.k.a cubs, I know) are born with their eyes entirely closed, therefore blind. They only peek open between 6-12 days after birth, and gain full sight in 2 weeks. But this isn’t that special with tigers in general.
8. Only 50% of cubs live past 2 years old
Sadly, only 2-5 cubs are born every time a mama tiger gives birth, and worst, only half of them will survive past 2 years old, being one of the cause of their endangerment.
9. It is born in a cave or at a breeding facility
Malayan tigresses usually give birth to cubs in a cave, but due to being critically endangered, there’s a large breeding facility in Malaysia which helps maintain it’s dying population. Many tigers have already been successfully bred in this facility and their cubs sent to zoos in different parts of the world for protection.
10. It can camouflage itself better than a ninja
As a professional hunter, these guys have mastered the art of being really stealthy. Because of their fur pattern, they are surprisingly adept at blending in with our rainforests. So if you’re about to be its dinner, you’ll never see it coming.
11. Its greatest threat is human
As with many species of animals, WE tend to be the main cause of their dying population. And with the Malayan tiger being at the top of the food chain, it’s really unsurprising to know this.
Header image source: star2