Caspian tiger

The Caspian tiger - one of eight described types. But whether you were interested sometime why the Caspian tigers aren't present in a zoo? Before to answer this question, it is necessary to tell about these majestic cats and their origin in more detail.

Tigers were widespread in Asia already one and a half million years ago. However, according to assumptions of the last genetic research, they almost completely disappeared at the end of the era of a pleistocene, perhaps, about 10 000-12 000 years ago. The small rest of population remained probably in the territory of modern China. From this area tigers started over again to extend, I migrate along the rivers after production, generally deer and boars. Though all continental tigers consist in close relationship and can be considered as regional populations, but not separate subspecies, they developed some physical and morphological properties for adaptation to various conditions of environment.

Two species of tigers in the former Soviet Union represented the most east and western populations of a majestic cat. The Amur tigers lived in the rich mixed woods in the Far East of Russia, near the Sea of Japan while the Caspian or uralo-Altai tigers (Panthera tigris virgata) met generally in the West. They lived in areas of basins of the rivers of the western and Central Asia, everywhere, where there was enough production, water and plants.

In the winter these surprising cats had a dense, beautiful fur, as a rule, more red, than at the Amur tigers, more nearby black, and sometimes brown strips, long white fur on a stomach. In the summer their fur was shorter. A little inferior by the size to the Far East relatives, adult males of the Caspian tigers weighed 170-240 kg and reached 270-290 cm in length.

They met in the territory from Turkey and Transcaucasia, in reed thickets and the floodplain woods along the big rivers of Central Asia, to the East from border of the lakes Lop Nur and Bagrash Kul in the province Ksinyang known as the Chinese Turkestan earlier.

Unique an area of the Caspian tiger was the tygai vegetation located along the big rivers beginning highly in mountains and crossing deserts or round lakes. The high and dense reed grows along coast of the rivers, surrounded with the floodplain woods of a poplar and a willow. It promotes growth of a bush of a tamarisk, saxaul and other salt-resistant plants on border with the desert. Because of such dense underbrush tigers sometimes had to get up on hinder legs for survey of the territory.

Area of tigers and their production as, for example, the Bukhara red deer, the roe, gazelles and especially boars, in such thickets of tygai vegetation it was limited and subject to influence of the person and destruction as these valleys were a place of agricultural settlements of people.

The tiger played an important role in culture of people of southwest Asia. The river Tiger was called in honor of a predator which, on a legend, transferred on the back the pregnant princess through the rough river. On the other hand, thanks to this name, the tiger began to be associated with fertility of the river. As a rule, living beings aren't represented in Islamic art, but in Sufism, one of Islam branches, the image of a tiger is represented on carpets and fabrics, and also on facades of mosques and other public buildings of Samarkand in Uzbekistan.

In Central Asia usually considered that tigers don't pose threat for life, and they coexisted near human settlements, even near the large cities, such as Tashkent. But distribution of settlements, especially Russian emigration in Central Asia at the end of the XIX century, had to lead to their death. As the coastal vegetation was destroyed for cultivation, and the rivers were used for an irrigation, generally for cultivation of the cotton extended with 1930kh years, tigers lost an area and production.

In the Russian Central Asia in the first decades of the twentieth century for the purpose of release of the territory for human settlements military groups for destruction of tigers, and also leopards and wolves were used. Cattle-farmers considered tigers as threat of life of the animals, including camels, horses and sheep. Because their beautiful skin was highly appreciated, predators killed both by means of strychnine, and by means of steel traps, and huge awards were paid for their destruction. Soon tapes or paths of an area of tigers were divided by human settlements, and populations of a tiger decreased and became more separated: tapes turned into spots on the distribution map of the Caspian tiger.

The natural reserves founded in the Soviet Central Asia were too small to support life of population of tigers, and only some sites of tygai vegetation, perhaps, the tenth part of initial reed thickets and floodplain woods remained. Their size, perhaps, was already stabilized, but tigers disappeared.

Destruction of the Caspian tigers in the Soviet Central Asia was connected with destruction of environment that wasn't favorably reflected in locals. The tendency of command economy to concentrate on cultivation of cotton with 1930kh years caused awful consequences for people and tigers. Demand for irrigational water strongly shook a fragile ecosystem of the region that led to 50% to reduction of the area of the Aral Sea and salinity of soils.

Along the rivers Cheese Darya and Cupid Darya and round Lake Balkhash (Kazakhstan) in 1930kh years the last tigers living here were exterminated though the wandering predators met in 1940kh here, and in the valley Vakhsh in Tajikistan a tiger the last time saw in 1961.

Possibly, the last Caspian tigers were noticed in the USSR at the foot of mountains of Talysh and a river basin Lenkoran in southeast Azerbaijan near the Caspian Sea in 1964, but it could be the tigers migrating from the next Iran. Here, on the southern Caspian Sea Coast of Iran, in former times tigers were numerous, and in 1960kh in this region about 15-20 individuals survived.

The last considered tiger was killed in Iran in 1957, but it is possible, some predators still remained in this territory in 1970kh. Cutting down of a reed and the flat woods on the southern coast of the Caspian Sea – part of anti-malarial programs in 1950kh and 1960kh - facilitated settling of the territory by people and deprived of a tiger of the habitat. The unexpected fact that in east Turkey in 1972 fresh skins of tigers were found, but any such case wasn't registered since then.

Farther to the East, bending around the impassable desert of Takla Makan in the province Ksinyang in China, the river Tarim flows. Along this river and round the lake Lop Nur (or Nor) into which the river Tarim flows, tigers tracked down boars in reed thickets and oases. But to 1920m they were exterminated. Because a lot of water was used for an irrigation of agricultural grounds along the river Tarim and the rivers flowing into it, the lake Lop Nur completely dried up, and the floodplain wood along the rivers which was an area of tigers, was almost completely destroyed. With 1960kh the desert of Lop Nur was used by Chinese for test of the nuclear weapon. Despite it, some wild Bactrians (two-humped camels) nevertheless there survived.

So, still in 1970kh, the last Caspian tigers were exterminated though generally population was destroyed in 1930kh. These big cats lived in a fragile area. They were exterminated in process of distribution of human settlements along the rivers, round lakes and oases. In such droughty areas they couldn't survive.

The ban on tigerish hunting in the USSR of 1947 was accepted too late to rescue the Caspian tiger. However it helped to keep several survived Amur tigers. Their shelter there is an area Sikhote-Alin, the wood occupying the territory, same on the area, as well as England. Despite poaching, their number I increased with 1950kh to 1980kh and now, apparently, it was stabilized. The Russian and international nature protection organizations diligent work on preservation of the Amur tigers, and we have to take care of that these magnificent cats didn't share lot of predators of Central Asia.

Read also:
OverviewColoringNutrimentHuntingRoar and voiceObstacles to successful huntingFailuresProcreationAmur tigerSumatran tigerTuran tigerCaspian tiger