The Caspian Tiger (Panthera tigris virgata), is a feline also known for the name of Persian tiger, was recognized as a feline subspecies in the year 1981.
Until then, the data regarding this tiger subspecies was very scarce since they only began to be known at the start of the 70s. Possibly, the shortage of data and the little interest that by the time existed over the Caspian tiger were significant factors that contributed to their extinction, as, sadly, in the year 2003 the Caspian tiger was officially declared extinguished.
Among the tigers, it was the third in terms of dimensions. The male adult reached a weight between 170 and 240 kg and got to measure 3 m of length. On their behalf, the females’ dimensions were slightly smaller. Among its physical characteristics stand out a golden-yellow fur with brown stripes, though the tone varied in each specimen. The tiger also had some white lines on its face and another white stripe that coated from the chest, through the belly, to the crotch.
Besides, the hair was longer throughout winter periods to provide them better protection on cold days, and on the face, the hair shaped a form of white beard.
The tiger’s contexture was thick, strong and elongated. The paws were sturdy, muscular and well developed; the claws were larger than other tiger subspecies’, a quality that made them excellent hunters and capable of traveling long distances. The tail was short and had brown and white lines.
The Caspian tiger had nocturnal habits; its surroundings were locations with high vegetation, various trees and set close to the riverbeds. It usually lived alone and was also referred to as the traveling tiger, because it was common for it to migrate following the trail of its prey. Its dimensions made hunting easy for the tiger. Its prey included big wild mammals, such as camels, deer, horses, donkeys, pigs, and others.
The Caspian tiger breeding cycle was long, another factor that contributed to its extinction. It reproduced every three years on average, with a gestation that lasted from 90 to 110 days, and the result was two or three felines that began to train for hunting from 8 weeks of age and were already expert hunters at 8 months. Then, after they were 2 years old, the tigers were independent adults.
The extinction of this beautiful animal started at the beginning of the 20th century once the territory that they lived in suffered colonization attempts by the Russian empire, which had the secondary aim of eliminating the tigers from the region around the Caspian Sea.
Not solely the tigers started to be murdered, but also several natural areas were deforested, therefore the surviving tigers, without food, were forced to retire to the highland areas where there was still food, this way they arrived at the mountains.
With these changes, the deterioration that these tigers experienced was catastrophic, to which was also added the hunting to traffic their skins and even more, the food shortage. This forced them to invade the territories colonized by humans in search of animals they could hunt, which made the Caspian tigers a vulnerable target and their enmity with humankind increased.
In the year 1970, the last Caspian tiger that lived in a region east of Turkey died. Currently, there is no specimen of this species in captivity. Its closest relative from the genetic point of view is the Siberian tiger (Panthera tigris altaica).