The tiger (Panthera tigris) is the largest cat species, most recognizable for its pattern of dark vertical stripes on reddish-orange fur with a lighter underside. The species is classified in the genus Panthera with the lion, leopard, jaguar, and snow leopard. It is an apex predator, primarily preying on ungulates such as deer and bovids. It is territorial and generally a solitary but social predator, often requiring large contiguous areas of habitat that support its prey requirements. This, coupled with the fact that it is indigenous to some of the more densely populated places on Earth, has caused significant conflicts with humans.
Tiger populations once ranged widely across Asia, from the Black Sea in the west, to the Indian Ocean in the south, and from Kolyma to Sumatra in the east. Over the past 100 years, the species has lost 93% of its historic range, and has been extirpated from Western and Central Asia, from the islands of Java and Bali, and from large areas of Southeast, South, and East Asia. Today, it ranges from the Siberian taiga to open grasslands and tropical mangrove swamps, and has been classified as endangered in the IUCN Red List. Major reasons for population decline include habitat destruction, habitat fragmentation and poaching. The extent of area inhabited by tigers is estimated at less than 1,184,911 km2 (457,497 sq mi), a 41% decline from the area estimated in the mid-1990s. The global wild population is estimated to number between 3,062 and 3,948 individuals, down from around 100,000 at the start of the 20th century, with most remaining populations occurring in small pockets isolated from each other, in which about 2,000 tigers live on the Indian subcontinent. In 2016, an estimate of a global wild tiger population of approximately 3,890 individuals was presented during the Third Asia Ministerial Conference on Tiger Conservation. The WWF declared that the world’s count of wild tigers has risen for the first time in a century.
The tiger is among the most recognisable and popular of the world’s charismatic megafauna. It featured prominently in ancient mythology and folklore, and continues to be depicted in modern films and literature, appearing on many flags, coats of arms, and as mascots for sporting teams. The tiger is the national animal of Bangladesh, India, Malaysia and South Korea.