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What Is a Bali Tiger?

By B. Chisholm
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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The Bali tiger, or Panthera tigris balica is one of the three sub-species of tiger that is now extinct. The smallest sub-species, Bali tigers are believed to have been extinct since around 1937 due to the deforestation of their habitat and hunting. They were only found in a very small area, the Indonesian island of Bali, which measures only 2,175 square miles (5,632 square kilometers) in total.

There are eight sub-species of tiger in the world, three of which are extinct - the Bali tiger, the Caspian tiger and the Javan tiger. Tigers are large felines known for their beautiful orange and black fur and white markings, which is one of the major factors that exposed them to extinction by hunting. The Bali tiger, while being the smallest of the sub-species, still measured up to 7 feet (2.13 m) long and 200 pounds (90.72 kg) in weight, the females being slightly smaller than the males.

A number of factors contributed to the extinction of the Bali tiger. The fact that Bali is a small country and an island was a major one. With the influx of humans and deforestation, their habitat became smaller, they were more exposed to hunters, and due to Bali being an island, they had nowhere else to go. Also, despite the fact that they are small tigers, they are generally solitary in nature which made them easier to hunt.

Tigers, including the Bali tiger, have a relatively long reproductive cycle. That is, the Bali tiger had a reproductive period of about two to three years which included mating, gestation, birth and rearing. Each litter was between two and three cubs and the cubs often fell prey to predators making it difficult to increase numbers of the tiger population, and their subsequent extinction.

The five remaining tiger sub-species' namely Siberian tigers, Bengal tigers, Indochinese tigers, South China tigers and Sumatran tigers are all in severe danger of extinction and are classified as endangered. They exist mainly in the forests of India, but also in some parts of Russia, China, Indonesia and Manchuria. They are all solitary creatures and highly territorial, making them extremely sensitive to deforestation.

The demise of the Bali tiger should be seen as a cautionary tale — without dedicated efforts at conserving the remainder of the tiger's habitats, their extinction may also be imminent. They are meat-eating carnivores, so the conservation of their food supply, which ranges from small prey such as monkeys all the way to large prey such as elephants, is also vital to their survival.

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Discussion Comments
By croydon — On Jan 02, 2014

@irontoenail - Unfortunately, it might be too late to save the other tigers. The Bali tiger went early because it lived on an island and there was only so much room to go around. Tigers need a lot of space to feel comfortable and to breed and thrive. While there is still some forest around for them, it's often only in small pockets that aren't big enough on their own to support a breeding population.

And to get to other pockets, tigers have to cross land inhabited by people. No matter how much they like tigers in theory, they aren't going to celebrate them wandering through their backyards at night.

By irontoenail — On Jan 02, 2014

@Fa5t3r - I actually really wish people would think of conservation more like that, rather than as something we should be obligated to do out of a moral duty.

We should be fighting to save the tiger because tigers are awesome and they are cool to have around. In the long run, having tigers or not having tigers probably won't make much difference to us as a species in terms of survival.

But in terms of the richness of the world and our experience of it, I'd rather have tigers.

Unfortunately, the Bali tiger was a victim of a time when we really didn't know enough about them to change our habits. But we can do better now. And we should, out of selfish reasons. Because those are the ones that stick.

By Fa5t3r — On Jan 01, 2014

Whenever I read about an extinction it always makes me so miserable. Especially when it's something so beautiful and irreplaceable as tigers.

I really hope there doesn't come a day when kids will think of them as legendary creatures, like they think of dinosaurs now.

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