Malayan Tiger

MalayanTiger at National Zoo Malaysia (CC BY 3.0)Resident of southern and central parts of Malay Peninsula it is found in Thailand and Malaysia. Earlier it wasn’t considered a separate subspecies. In 2004 a study, conducted in the Laboratory of Genomic Diversity, a wing of the National Cancer Institute in USA established that the Malayan tigers (Panthera tigris jacksoni) are different from the Indochinese tigers (Panthera tigris corbetti) and they were classified under the separate subspecies.

Controversy on Name

Malyan Tiger Range (GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2)The declaration of Malayan Tiger as a separate subspecies was warmly received in Malaysia, but soon a debate was started over its scientific name. The formal description of the subspecies gave it the name (Panthera tigris jacksoni) in the honour of tiger specialist Peter Jackson. However, the Malaysian Government and the Malaysian Association of Zoological Parks and Aquaria (MAZPA) protested to it, arguing that the country’s government should have been consulted over the naming of its national icon. Malaysia’s argument is that the naming of tiger should reflect the geographical region, Malaysia. This argument did not get support in the international scientific community so the government itself gave the tiger a name of its choice. Now the situation is in Malaysia the tiger is known as (Panthera tigris malayensis).

Malaysia’s national icon

The striped cat is depicted in the coat of arms of Malaysia, symbolizing the government. It appears in various heraldry of the country’s institutions like, Maybank, FAM, Royal Malaysian Police and Proton. It symbolizes strength and bravery to Malaysians. It is also the nickname for the Malaysian national football team. The tiger has also been given various nicknames by Malaysians.

Physical measurements

After the Bengal Tiger, the Malayan subspecies has the largest population in the world ranging from 600-800 in the wild. Despite its number it is an endangered subspecies. Along with the Sumatran tiger it is perhaps the smallest extant subspecies of striped cats. Its pattern of stripes is similar to the Indochinese tiger but its size is closer to the Sumatran subspecies, with an average weight of 120 kg for adult males and 100 kg for females. Males measures around 237 cm in length from head to tail, while females are around 200 cm.

Diet and biology

Malayan-Tiger_in_the_water-the-Creative-Commons-Attribution-2.0-Generic-license2These cats prey on sambar, serow, barking deer, bearded pigs and wild boars. Those found in Taman Negara also prey on sun bear and elephant calves. Whether their principal prey includes adult gaur and tapir is not known. Occasionally, domestic cattle are also taken. Tigers have played an important role in keeping check on the wild boar population which may otherwise become a serious pest in plantations and other croplands. Studies indicate that in areas where there are no large predators, like tigers and leopards, wild boars are over 10 times more numerous than in areas where predators are still present.

Due to low prey density in the rainforests tigers occur at very low densities, 1 to 2 individuals per 100 km². Experts are of the opinion in order to maintain viable tiger population of minimum of 6 breeding females; reserves need to be larger than 1000 km². Biological/ecological research on the Malayan tiger is still in infancy. For example, information on dietary preference, morphological measurements, demographic parameters, social structure, communication, home range sizes, dispersal capabilities are all lacking.

Tigers also feel jealous in love !!!!!!

In a rare attack that came after months of simmering jealousy in a feline love triangle, Seri, a three-year-old Malayan tigress killed her six-year-old mate, Wzui, of the same subspecies in El Paso Zoo in West Texas on 8 Sept, 2011. Zoo Director Steve Marshall said in a news report by Reuters, “Tragic incidents such as this are not unheard of but we don’t consider this common.”

Malayan tigers are critically endangered. Both Seri and Wzui were on loan from other zoos as part of the American Zoo Association’s Species Survival Plan to aid in their conservation through captive breeding.

Regarding killing of Wzui, Marshall said keepers had not seen any signs of aggression leading up to the attack, and that the two cats had been seen playing affectionately at the exhibit earlier in the day. However, in June, zoo authorities reported what they called a “tiger love triangle” between Seri, Wzui and a 15-year-old female called Meli, who was transferred to El Paso from a zoo in Fresno, California, in 2001. “The male tiger Wzui likes both females, but the two females don’t like each other,” the zoo said in a press release dated June 14, 2011. “The girls are jealous of each other,” collections Supervisor Griselda Martinez said.

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