Sunday 6 June 2021

Do tigers live in the Amazon rainforest?

Categorically no, tigers do not live in the Amazon rainforest! The big cat which is the top predator in the Amazon rainforest is the jaguar, which is not much smaller than the tiger. Why are there no tigers in the Amazon basin? It's just a question of evolution. The tiger was first created through evolution in Asia and I guess there was no landmass connecting Asia with the Amazon basin millions of years ago and therefore there was no possibility for the tiger to migrate across that landmass to what is now South America.

Elusive Bengal tiger in Kanha Tiger Reserve, India. Photo: in public domain.


It is the same reason why there are no wild cats on the Australian continent. It's just down to a water barrier between the area where the wild cats evolved, which in this instance is the Far East, and the Australian continent. If Australia was connected to the Far East there would be a range of wild cat species living in Australia today. If there were perhaps the Australians would like feral cats more! They hate them judging by the numbers that they kill.

It is also the reason why there are no tigers in Africa and on that continent the lion is the top predator. The tiger is slightly bigger on average than the lion, by the way, but it is said that the lion can beat the tiger, on average, in a fight.

Once again, going back millions of years when the tiger first evolved into a cat which looks like today's tiger there was no possibility for that animal to migrate to Africa because of a water barrier and therefore all the tigers are in Asia beginning with India and going all the way across to China and the Russian Far East, where the Siberian tiger lives in very small numbers by the way (500).

There is a range of tiger subspecies but some have become extinct because of human activities. The Bengal tiger is the dominant species of tiger in the world but even those are limited to about 3,500 in total population size but we don't know exactly how many there are because it is difficult to count them through scats and camera traps records.

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