photo: Neil McIntosh/Creative Commons
An update on the precarious state of Amur tigers: New figures have been released on the effective breeding population of Amur tigers (also known as Siberian tigers) which show that the genetic diversity of the wild population is so low that there are effectively less than 14 of them left in the wild. In 2009 the effective wild population was 35. As BBC News reports, the Amur tiger's range stretched across northern China, all of Korea, and eastern Russia. By the 1940s habitat loss and poaching dropped their population to just 20-30 individuals, with total population loss across 90% of their historic range. Though population numbers have since climbed to about 500 Amur tigers left in the wild and approximately an equal number in captivity, low genetic diversity means that any genetic disorder or disease vulnerability is extremely easy to pass on to the next generation.
Writing in the journal Mammalian Biology, researchers from Russia, Spain and Germany conclude:
The worryingly low effective population size challenges the optimism for the recover of the huge Siberian cat.
More on Tigers:
Tigers Could Be Extinct in 12 Years
Wild Tiger Population Dropped by 96.8% in 20 Years