Jasmine the Tiger
The Indochinese tiger (Panthera tigris corbetti) is a tiger subspecies found in Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and southwestern China that has been classified as endangered by IUCN. Its status is poorly known but the extent of its recent decline is serious, approaching the threshold for critically endangered.
Panthera tigris corbetti, also called Corbett’s tiger, was named in honour of Jim Corbett.
Tigers in peninsular Malaysia, formerly classified as Indochinese, have recently been reclassified as a separate subspecies, Malayan tiger Panthera tigris jacksoni. No Indochinese tigers have been seen in China since 2007, and it is believed that the last specimen there was killed and eaten by a man now sentenced to twelve years’ imprisonment for the crime.
Indochinese tigers live in secluded forests in hilly to mountainous terrain, the majority of which lies along the borders between countries. Entrance to these areas is frequently restricted and as of late biologists have been granted limited permits for field surveys. For this reason, comparatively little is known about the status of these big cats in the wild. Mother tigers give birth to two or three cubs at a time.
Indochinese tigers prey mainly on medium- and large-sized wild ungulates. Sambar deer, wild pigs, serow, and large bovids such as banteng and juvenile gaur comprise the majority of Indochinese tiger’s diet. However, in most of Southeast Asia large animal populations have been seriously depleted because of illegal hunting, resulting in the so-called “empty forest syndrome” – i.e. a forest that looks intact, but where most wildlife has been eliminated. Some species, such as the kouprey and Schomburgk’s Deer, are extinct, and Eld’s Deer, hog deer and wild water buffalo are present only in a few relict populations. In such habitats tigers are forced to subsist on smaller prey, such as muntjac deer, porcupines, macaques and hog badgers. Small prey by itself is barely sufficient to meet the energy requirements of a large carnivore such as the tiger, and is insufficient for tiger reproduction. This factor, in combination with direct tiger poaching for traditional Chinese medicine, is the main contributor in the collapse of the Indochinese tiger throughout its range.