The Javan tiger is an extinct species of tiger that inhabited the island of Java, in Indonesia, until the middle of the 1900s. The tiger was a small species compared to those found on mainland Asia and lived mainly off mammals such as deer. It was similar in appearance to the Sumatran tiger, which also lives in Indonesia, although Javan tigers had more stripes. Extinction of the Javan tiger was driven by a reduction in habitat and over-hunting; the last confirmed sighting was in the 1970s.
The habitat of the Javan tiger extended over most of Java. This included the forested areas and mountains, which meant the species had regular contact with humans. The animal lived off animals such as wild boar and deer. It is thought that the tiger may have supplemented its diet with reptiles and some types of birds. The lifespan of the tiger isn’t known, but it was believed to be similar to other species of tigers, which live up to 15 years.
Javan tigers were relatively small compared to most other types of tiger, although the species was larger than the Bali tiger, another extinct Indonesian species. Males could weigh up to 310 pounds (140 kg), while females were noticeably smaller. The small size of the Javan tiger is probably a result of the smaller size of prey on the island compared to other parts of Asia. Other characteristics of the Javan tiger included a long nose and thin stripes.
The Javan tiger is extinct today, but it was extremely common less than 200 years ago. In parts of Java, the tiger was even considered a pest by locals. A dramatic increase in human population is thought to have driven the tiger to extinction. The increase in people reduced the tiger’s natural habitat and forced it to compete with other predators. The tiger also was hunted, mainly by natives.
There was an effort by conservation groups in the mid-1900s to set up reserves for the Javan tiger. At this stage, the population had been reduced to around 25 tigers. By the 1970s, there were thought to be fewer than 10 Javan tigers alive, and no sightings have been confirmed since then. Sightings of Javan tigers are common in some areas of Java, but it is thought that the species is extinct and these sightings actually involve other, misidentified, big cats.