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Amur and Sumatran tigers        Images © Mark A. Chappell

Amur, or Siberian tigers (top left; Panthera tigris altaica) are the largest and (to me) the most impressive of all wild cats, with large males approaching 300 kg and females perhaps 180 kg.   They are native to north-eastern Asia; formerly they had a wide range but now are mainly confined to the Russian side of the eastern Russian-Chinese border region, along the Amur River (with a handful hanging on in North China and maybe North Korea).   The wild population (maybe 350-450 animals) is in serious trouble from poaching and habitat destruction; this is a little ironic since they were rescued from near-oblivion by strict protection imposed during the Stalinist days of the former Soviet Union.   They breed readily in zoos and today there are more in captivity than in the wild.   The male pictured at upper left was a resident of the Anchorage Zoo.
          Unfortunately, pretty much the same sad story applies to all tiger subspecies, including the smallest, the Sumatran tiger (P. t. sumatrae) shown in most of these photos, taken at the San Diego Safari Park.   Zoos are challenging places to get good photos; the tigers in both of these zoos were captive reared and in large wooded enclosures, which helped.   Nonetheless, 'portrait' shots are often the best way to go to avoid obvious bars or wire in the background.

  • Canon 10D or 7D2; 500 mm F4 IS lens plus 1.4X converter or 800 mm IS or 70-200 mm F4 IS, some with fill-in flash (2004, 2015)