The size of the Amur tiger (Panthera tigris altaica
By Raúl A. Valvert L. Guatemala, 2009 There are many records about the size of the Amur tiger, however very few are reliable. Since 1992, the Siberian Tiger Project had been worked in the Sikhote-Alin Biosphere Zapovednik and had collected a huge quantity of information about the morphology of this subspecies. The following images are de summary of the scientific studies about the size and weight of the Amur tiger, commonly know as the Siberian tiger.
Sunquist & Sunquist (2002), in the table 63, presents the measurements of historic Amur tigers.
Is important to mention that the body measurements presented in this table were taken over the curves of the body, so, the real length of the animals could be about 15-20 cm less. The existence of Amur tigers of more than 300 kg is well documented, and by any means impossible; however, it most be noted that those specimens were old and very rare. Slaght et al. (2005), in the table 6.2, presents the calculated average weight of several subspecies of tiger, however, those from the Amur tiger are based in two different streams: First, the historic specimens gathered only from well documented records from reliable sources. The second are the modern records that only used the animals weighed by the Siberian Tiger Project. This image shows the fragment about the Amur tiger.
There is a difference of about 39 kg between the historic and the modern figures. However, it most be noted that, in the past, the population of prey base for the Amur tiger has higher and the poaching level was lower than in these days. However, the prey base of the Amur tiger is very low in the actuality, compared with others tiger populations. This fragment is from the official page of the WCS Russia :
Available at: http://www.wcsrussia.org/Species/AmurTigers/Ecology/tabid/1467/Default.aspx
By comparison, the heaviest tiger in the table of Sunquist & Sunquist (2002) was of 325 kg, while the heaviest reliable record in the historic average weight of Slagth et al. (2005) was of 254 kg. This shows that the tigers in the Amur region, even when they look in good physic conditions, are suffering of very low prey base, which make that every next hunt must be harder than in old days.
There are many measurements about the Amur tiger in the literature; however there is no much certain if they were obtained from the fresh animal or from the skin. According with Mazák (1981), the biggest Amur tiger with reliable measurements was a male hunted in the basin of the upper course of the Sungari River in Manchuria, in 1943. The total length of the animal, in the flesh, was of 351 cm. measured “over curves”, so he calculates that this tiger would be about 330 to 335 cm if measured “between pegs.” This is the official record at this day. Now, the scientist of the Siberian Tiger Project had captured several animals during they study. Based in these measurements, Kerley et al. (2005) presents the table 7.3 about the size of the present adult Amur tiger:
Kerley et al. (2005) reported that the longest male, captured by scientist, measured 309 cm in total length (tail of 101 cm) and had a chest girth of 127 cm. The longest female measured 270 cm in total length (tail of 88 cm) and had a chest girth of 108 cm. These measurements show that the present Amur tiger is longer than the Bengal tiger and the African lion. The measurements were conducted according with the methods described in Nowell & Jackson (1996). The next image shows the procedure:
The best source about the skull size of the Amur tiger came from the Zoologist Vratislav Mazák. Heptner and Sludskii (1989) make a compilation of the measurements presented by Mazák in 1967.
The next image show the original source of the skull from Baikov (1925), described in the previous images by Heptner and Sludskii (1989). This is one of the largest skulls of any tiger in record.
Baikov, N. A. 1925. The Manchurian tiger. The Society for the Study of the Manchurian Region. Kharbin. Heptner, V. G. y Sludskii, A. A. 1989. Mammals of the Soviet Union. Vol. II, part 2, Carnivores (Feloidea). Leiden, E. J. Brill. 784 pp. (see Panthera tigris Linnaeus, 1758 (Tiger), pp. 95-202) Kerley, L.; Goodrich, J.; Smirnov, E.; Miquelle, D.; Nikolaev, I; Arjanova, T.; Slaght, J.; Schleyer, B.; Kuigli, H.; Hornoker, M. 2005. Chapter 7. Morphological indicators of the Amur tiger. 15 pp. In D.G. Miquelle, E.N. Smirnov, and J.M. Goodrich (Eds.). Tigers in Sikhote-Alin Zapovednik: Ecology and Conservation. PSP, Vladivostok, Russia (in Russian). Mazák, V. 1981. Panthera tigris. Mammalian Species 152: 1-8. Nowell, K. & Jackson, P. (compilers and editors). 1996. Wild Cats: status survey and conservation action plan. IUCN/SSC Cat Specialist Group. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland. 406 pp. (see Tiger, Panthera tigris, pp. 55–65). Slaght, J. C., D. G. Miquelle, I. G. Nikolaev, J. M. Goodrich, E. N. Smirnov, K. TraylorHolzer, S. Christie, T. Arjanova, J. L. D. Smith, and K. U. Karanth. 2005. Chapter 6.
Who‘s king of the beasts? Historical and recent body weights of wild and captive Amur tigers, with comparisons to other subspecies. 20 pp. In D.G. Miquelle, E.N. Smirnov, and J.M. Goodrich (Eds.). Tigers in Sikhote-Alin Zapovednik: Ecology and Conservation. PSP, Vladivostok, Russia (in Russian).
Sunquist, M. & Sunquist F. 2002. Wild cats of the world. University of Chicago Press, Chicago. 462 pp.