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ON THE EDGE OF EXTINCTION - A - THE TIGER (Panthera tigris)

United States Pckts Offline
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(10-17-2022, 11:50 PM)Matias Wrote: @GrizzlyClaws 

The problem is precisely where this study was carried out. Harbin… any other commercial enterprise with tigers in China has no practical conservation aspect. On the day that China has an authentic enterprise along the lines of private initiative in South Africa with Lions, through its Game Reserves, such as: Madikwe, Welgevonden, Phinda… or even more naturally composed as Bubye Valley Conservancy (Zimbabwe); we could begin, with some caution, to mirror these tigers on other free-living ones. With minority exceptions, we would not see specimens heavier than 240/250 kg (the dynamics of predation must make them strong, fast and agile).

This study is good propaganda, parachuted in, to give some new outlet to these multiple ventures which, in the end, all enter the broad market for their parts, helping to perpetuate the demand for tiger products. From this perspective, I could not be touched by the methodology or the results.

The morphology of captive felines cannot be compared to wild specimens. Captive specimens must be viewed in a restricted, way inherent to their life circumstances, and compared only with captive specimens.

Yes, there are specimens of wild tigers that were bigger and heavier than the great average. This point should also be viewed with a good deal of caution, where directing that these specimens are more adapted or that they had greater evolutionary success is a point to cannot direct to this understanding, since only those who tread the earth and develop field studies, following these tigers for years (radiocollared) may suggest these circumstances. Hormonal and glandular problems associated with obesity, sedentary lifestyle, consanguinity and inadequate diet also make up this picture of the extremes of your weight. In those “live animal” feeding shows we have tigers of spectacular sizes and shapes, but calling them “healthy” is a bit much. We can't prove it, but metabolic-accelerating synthetic drugs and other hormone synthesizers is a common practice. “Large specimens are the showcase for Harbin Siberian Tiger Park – a by-product of entertainment ingenuity".

I don't disagree with your point of view... there is no way to trust the authors and the interests that are involved. Invite renowned scientists in the field and let them analyze and disseminate the hematological and biochemical parameters of tigers they freely choose to select in Harbin. Not that this will produce a broad understanding, it will compose a biological picture of what China has been producing in captivity.

I agree with most you have written.
Separating Wild from Semi Wild from Captive should all be noted.
Anything other than truly free ranging will have some red flags and don't offer a true representation of their capacities.
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Canada GrizzlyClaws Offline
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( This post was last modified: 10-18-2022, 05:52 AM by GrizzlyClaws )

(10-17-2022, 11:50 PM)Matias Wrote: @GrizzlyClaws 

The problem is precisely where this study was carried out. Harbin… any other commercial enterprise with tigers in China has no practical conservation aspect. On the day that China has an authentic enterprise along the lines of private initiative in South Africa with Lions, through its Game Reserves, such as: Madikwe, Welgevonden, Phinda… or even more naturally composed as Bubye Valley Conservancy (Zimbabwe); we could begin, with some caution, to mirror these tigers on other free-living ones. With minority exceptions, we would not see specimens heavier than 240/250 kg (the dynamics of predation must make them strong, fast and agile).

This study is good propaganda, parachuted in, to give some new outlet to these multiple ventures which, in the end, all enter the broad market for their parts, helping to perpetuate the demand for tiger products. From this perspective, I could not be touched by the methodology or the results.

The morphology of captive felines cannot be compared to wild specimens. Captive specimens must be viewed in a restricted, way inherent to their life circumstances, and compared only with captive specimens.

Yes, there are specimens of wild tigers that were bigger and heavier than the great average. This point should also be viewed with a good deal of caution, where directing that these specimens are more adapted or that they had greater evolutionary success is a point to cannot direct to this understanding, since only those who tread the earth and develop field studies, following these tigers for years (radiocollared) may suggest these circumstances. Hormonal and glandular problems associated with obesity, sedentary lifestyle, consanguinity and inadequate diet also make up this picture of the extremes of your weight. In those “live animal” feeding shows we have tigers of spectacular sizes and shapes, but calling them “healthy” is a bit much. We can't prove it, but metabolic-accelerating synthetic drugs and other hormone synthesizers is a common practice. “Large specimens are the showcase for Harbin Siberian Tiger Park – a by-product of entertainment ingenuity".

I don't disagree with your point of view... there is no way to trust the authors and the interests that are involved. Invite renowned scientists in the field and let them analyze and disseminate the hematological and biochemical parameters of tigers they freely choose to select in Harbin. Not that this will produce a broad understanding, it will compose a biological picture of what China has been producing in captivity.


The average weight for the male tigers from Harbin breeding center is around 214 kg with the largest specimen over 440 kg.

They are almost identical to the wild Amur tiger and were not gorged for every day, and they usually won't eat for 1 - 2 days per week as their diet plan and were mostly fed with low calorie chicken.

slightly chubby ≠ morbidly obese


Those morbidly obese captive big cats were usually gorged with high calorie beef and were mostly confined in a limited space unlike those Harbin tigers who were routinely strolled in a much larger yard.
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Apex Titan Offline
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( This post was last modified: 11-10-2022, 09:30 PM by Apex Titan )

Amur tiger Predation on Asiatic black bears (Observations by Sergey Kolchin)

Its well known that Himalayan black bears are common prey for tigers. The Asiatic black bear of the Amur-Ussuri regions (also known as the Himalayan or Ussuri black bear) is the largest subspecies of Asiatic black bear. Male Ussuri black bears are larger and more formidable than sloth bears. While a large male sloth bear can weigh up to 160-180 kg, a large male Asiatic black bear can exceed 200 kg in weight, and have a body length of 2 meters. - Similar in size and weight to some adult male tigers and brown bears.

In fact, large male Himalayan bears (150-200+kg) are heavier than the average adult female Kamchatka brown bears (174.5 kg, body length 194 cm).

According to Aramilev (click on the video link below), it's normal for Himalayan bears in the Primorye region to weigh 200 kg. Aramilev stated that the Himalayan black bear can even weigh up to 250 kg! The greatest weight of Himalayan black bears is in autumn and winter, when they have fattened up for hibernation. 

Sergey Aramilev also recently stated in this video here: (Use English subtitles)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agSu3xan7OA&t=51s

"There are tigers that specialize in Himalayan bears, especially in autumn, when they have already gained weight and fat, it's very comfortable (delicious) food. Tigers directly know where you can find delicious Himalayan bears."

Biologist Linda Kerley (her email to poster 'Jungle Sprout ', 2011) also stated: 

"I've seen tigers prey on black bears of all shapes and sizes, up to the largest and healthiest female brown bears."

Himalayan black bears are part of the Amur tigers basic diet. Adult bears (of all ages & both sexes) are regularly hunted and killed by tigers. But do the largest and most formidable male black bears, weighing 200+kg, also fall prey to tigers? Do large male black bears fear tigers? 

As tigers regularly hunt (at any time of the year) adult Himalayan black bears, I wanted some context as to the size and weight of the black bears that become victims of tigers. I wanted confirmation by an experienced field biologist first-hand, if tigers even prey on the huge male black bears, which weigh in excess of 200 kg.

There's a significant difference between an average adult male Himalayan bear (130-140 kg - average summer weight) and a large, old male Himalayan bear weighing 170 - 200+kg. Large old male bears are more powerful, have a nastier & aggressive temperament, fully developed muscle on their head and neck area, and are more seasoned and experienced fighters, often exhibiting old battle scars on their face.

I recently contacted Sergey Kolchin (biologist & leading expert on the biology of wild tigers and bears in Russia). Kolchin has a vast amount of field experience, he has found many bears that have been killed by tigers, he also reported that: "Bears are common prey for tigers."

I asked him what was the largest Himalayan black bear he's ever seen that was killed by a tiger. Kolchin told me that even the huge male black bears (weighing 200+kg, and a body length of 2 meters) fall prey to tigers. These large, old male bears hunted and killed by tigers are also similar in size to large tigers:




*This image is copyright of its original author


This was also confirmed last year in 2021, when a male tiger hunted, killed and devoured a large, old male black bear. Kolchin followed the tracks of the male tiger in the snow, and found the remains of a dismembered, large male bear that was killed and mostly eaten by the tiger.

Judging by the size of the paws, claws and forearms, this could likely have been a huge male black bear, similar in size to his killer.

Large paws of the bear:  (Notice the old battle scars on the bears face)


*This image is copyright of its original author



Large claws:


*This image is copyright of its original author



Notice the large, thick and robust forearms of the bear:


*This image is copyright of its original author



His observations and findings also confirm what Baikov stated about large tigers hunting (large) bears of the same weight, and what field biologist Linda Kerley stated about (seeing) tigers preying on black bears of all shapes and sizes.

Sergey Kolchin stated that the Himalayan bear is terribly afraid of the tiger and avoids him. Only large male bears, in some cases, are able to offer decent resistance when attacked by a tiger. But nothing more. Even the large male bears are usually killed when predated on:



*This image is copyright of its original author



Even large male Himalayan bears, fearing a tiger, will flee up a tree when they hear the approach of a large animal:




*This image is copyright of its original author



Large bears are frightened by very fresh marks of tigers or trails with a smell of a tiger - 1-2 hours ago:


*This image is copyright of its original author



Himalayan black bears (even pound for pound) are one of the most powerfully built and robust bear species. For a tiger to kill a large male bear (170-200+kg) of similar size, it takes a lot of skill, power and strength. As the tiger, in some cases, has to fight, grapple and subdue the large bear in order to kill it.

But Amur tigers are very adept at hunting and killing large bears, although it's still a risky business as the bear is a dangerous prey, armed with formidable teeth and claws and immense strength, able to inflict some injuries to a tiger, so the tiger needs to execute his attack properly.

Although, even huge male black bears (according to experts & biologists) are not capable of killing a tiger in a fight. They can only offer decent resistance, but thats it. In a fair fight between a very large male black bear weighing 200+kg and an average adult male tiger, the bear is simply outclassed physically by the tiger. Hence why even the largest male Himalayan bears become victims of the tiger.

Below are some examples of large male Himalayan black bears. This puts into perspective the size of bears that are hunted and killed by tigers. (I didn't want to post Russian hunter trophy photo's of large male black bears). 

I also posted pictures/videos of large male Himalayan black bears from South-Asia, as it's easier to find videos of Asiatic black bears from South-Asia than Russia.

A large male from Lazovsky Nature Reserve, Primorye region (Russia):


*This image is copyright of its original author


A large, fat Himalayan black bear from 'Land of the Leopard National Park' (Russia):


*This image is copyright of its original author


Here is a huge male Himalayan black bear (likely 190 - 200+kg) captured in Omah, Verinag; Over 10 men struggled to move this very hefty bear:






A large male Himalayan black bear being released (Massive specimen, likely 190-200+kg):








*This image is copyright of its original author


A large male caught in Kashmir:






A large, hefty looking male black bear that was sadly killed (accidentally) at night by a vehicle in central Kashmir:


*This image is copyright of its original author



*This image is copyright of its original author


A large Himalayan black bear in the Nandhor Valley, Uttarakhand:


*This image is copyright of its original author



Himalayan black bears from South Asia (India & Pakistan) can also reach massive sizes, but the largest Himalayan bears (Ussuri black bears) are found in the Amur-Ussuri region of the Russian taiga. As you can see, the bears that are hunted by tigers are far from small. They are large, very robust and powerful animals.

In my opinion, the size and weight of Asiatic black bears are highly underestimated by most people. As the above pictures/videos clearly show, these bears can often reach impressive sizes and weights, exceeding 200 kg. One large male shot in Japan was claimed to have weighed 237 kg.

Conclusions:

1) It's a fact that huge male black bears (weighing 200+kg, body length of 2 meters) fall prey to tigers (Sergey Kolchin, 2022). Black bears of all shapes and sizes are killed by tigers (L. Kerley, 2011).

2) Due to predation by tigers, large male black bears highly fear tigers and will usually flee up a tree when they encounter or sense the presence of a tiger. 

3) Large bears, in general, are frightened by very fresh marks or trails of tigers.

4) Tigers prefer to hunt Himalayan black bears in autumn, when bears have gained weight. This makes the bear more juicy and tasty for the tiger to eat, but also provides more meat.

5) Tigers regularly hunt and kill Himalayan black bears all year round (especially in autumn) and individuals of all ages, genders and sizes become victims. (Tkachenko, Kolchin, L.Kerley et al; 2011, 2012, 2017, 2022).
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Netherlands peter Offline
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( This post was last modified: 11-28-2022, 01:49 PM by peter )

(10-12-2022, 02:58 AM)GrizzlyClaws Wrote: Giant Amur tiger from the Harbin breeding center.

All sampled specimens weighed between 98 - 442.4 kg with the age of 2 - 9 years old.

They were usually fasted 1 - 2 days per week and were regularly fed with chicken and pork. All specimens were described as 'healthy' so far, and most likely being empty stomach before being weighed and blood sampled.

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full...2/vms3.395


I guess this particular 442.4 kg specimen is equivalent to a 7 feet tall and 350 pounds individual for the modern Homo sapiens.

Those giant specimens among the modern big cats sound too staggering to be real, but they do exist. @peter @tigerluver @GuateGojira

GRIZZLY

Sorry about the (very) late reply. I was busy.

a - About the captive 442,4 kg Amur tiger

The tiger was discussed in post 2,578 (paragraph VI-2f) and in post 2,579 (paragraphs VII-5 and VII-7). Although mentioned in the table (VII-7, tiger 82), the tiger was left out of the equasion (referring to the table with averages). The reason is the tiger was no less than 122,4 kg (272 pounds) heavier than the second heaviest male. The table, in fact, shows two males were tied for second. At 320 kg (707 pounds) each, they would still need an additional adult wild Amur tigress of average size in order to get even close to the 442,4 kg giant (...). 

I immediately admit the decision to leave the 442,4 kg giant out of the table with averages was arbitrary. That, however, doesn't mean I doubt the weight of the tiger. I know he was weighed, but at his size one wants to know a bit more. With 'a bit more', I mean body measurements (total length, head-, neck-, chest- and waist circumference, upper- and fore-arm, heel width), skull measurements and a few photographs showing the tiger close to another large male.   
 
b - Personal experience

A few decades ago, I had the opportunity to measure and weigh 3 adult male Amur tigers and 3 adult male lions. The Amur tigers were 279, 287 and 298,5 cm in total length measured in a straight line. The longest of these 3 was 185,5 kg. The others were a bit heavier. One of them, 'Amur', was 211 kg when he was moved to a safari park a few years later. 

The tigers were part of a French curcus. The act had 8 Amur tigers (4 males and 4 females). During a show, one of the males killed his trainer. The tiger was shot. After the accident, nobody was willing to work with them anymore. Their cage wagon was set apart and the tigers were all but completely neglected for a period of about 7 weeks. I measured them just after they had arrived in the Netherlands, when they were severely weakened by the ordeal.  

In spite of that, the males were still impressive. Compared to the male lions I measured that same day, they were longer, taller and more muscular (referring to the limbs and shoulders in particular). The lions, by the way, were as impressive. Although usually (quite) a bit shorter than captive male Amur tigers, captive male lions often have larger chests and bigger heads. These large chests, however, do not seem to result in more weight. The correlation between chest circumference and weight seems to be different in captive male lions and tigers. One could say captive male lions have relatively large chests for their weight and be close.      

I can't tell you a lot about the weights of the 3 male Amur tigers and the 3 male lions. The reason is the first male tiger woke up when we put him on the scale out in the open (...). We were able to bring him back to the cage, but decided agains weighing the others (too risky). We did, however, move all of them to and from the cages on the same stretcher and thought they they more or less compared. The heaviest could have been the male that was weighed at Schiphol Airport a few years later. 

The point I want to make is an adult male lion or tiger ranging between, say, 380-470 pounds (172,36-213,19 kg) is an impressive animal by any standard. Heavier animals are not uncommon, but a non-obese captive big cat exceeding 600 pounds (272,16 kg) is exceptional. Both lions and tigers are able to get to that weight, but male tigers of large subspecies, and Amur tigers in particular, do it more often.  

Our member 'Betty' has good contacts in China as well as an extended database. About a year ago, she told me at least 3 males in Chinese facilities exceed 400 kg. Not one of them is obese. These males are kept for breeding purposes. I take Betty very serious, but would appreciate a bit more than just a report.  

c - Photographs of large captive Amur tigers

This paragraph has 10 photographs of large Amur tigers. The aim is to show you how a large tiger compares to a human. With 'large', I mean tigers (referring to tigers c4, c6, c7, c8 and c10) ranging between 260-300 kg (596-663 pounds). This is needed in order to get to a mental image of a tiger considerably heavier. Remember reports about captive Amur tigers reaching or even exceeding 400 kg (883 pounds) are not a result of hearsay. These tigers are very real. 

I have no information about the other 5 tigers (c1, c2, c3, c5 and c9), but my guess is they more or less compare with the others. Remember a tiger approaching 300 kg is able to reach 8-9 feet while standing on his hind legs. One has to get close to really appreciate the size of a large tiger.    

c1 - This photograph was posted in the days of AVA. The legs in particular are striking:


*This image is copyright of its original author


c2 - This photograph was also posted in the days of AVA. Watch the width of the skull and the rostrum:


*This image is copyright of its original author


c3 - Another large male Amur tiger with a large and robust head:


*This image is copyright of its original author


c4 - This is tiger 'Amur' from the Duisburg Zoo (Germany). According to V. Mazak (1983, pp. 180, 186-187), this tiger was born in the Rotterdam Zoo ('Blijdorp') in 1965. His parents were captured in Russia (Ussuri region). At age 5,5, he was 110 cm at the shoulders (standing). The other measurements (head length 50 cm, total length 320 cm 'between pegs' and upper canines 9 cm) show it was a very large animal. In his prime, 'Amur' was estimated at 280-300 kg (618-663 pounds):


*This image is copyright of its original author


c5 - A typical male Amur tiger, but longer, taller and more robust:


*This image is copyright of its original author


c6 - This, I think, is 'Gamin'. If not, it's 'Junior'. They were mentioned in the table in post 2,579 (paragraph VII.7). Both stood 110-112 cm at the shoulder and both were 276-277 kg (609-611 pounds) in their prime. About as tall and heavy as the Duisburg Zoo tiger (see c4):


*This image is copyright of its original author


c7 - This is 'Jelzin' just before he was transported to Braunschweig (Germany). The one who sedated and transported the tiger (standing in front of the cage, I think) said he was 270 kg (596 pounds) at age 2,5 (...). As a result of his age, tiger 'Jelzin' wasn't as robust as some of the other males in this paragraph, but he was long and in tigers length often equals weight. In wild Indian tigers, about a century ago, every inch in (total) length resulted in 7 additional pounds. 

It's quite likely 'Jelzin' would have been (significantly) heavier at age 4 or 5. In captivity (referring to recent information collected in Chinese facilities), male Amur tigers, weightwise, peak at that age. Although their neck-, and, most probably, their skull circumference continues to increase, they start to lose weight after reaching 6-7 years of age. Judging from the photographs, videos and documentaries I saw, wild Amur tigers, although most probably a bit shorter than their captive relatives, seem more robust, especially in the upper body. Their head seems to be relatively larger as well. 

The main reason why captive male Amur tigers lose weight when they reach adulthood is they do not have the opportunity to hunt and develop their muscles, bones and mind. There's no need for a large body and a truly adult soul, that is. But the blueprint is still there and it shows in adolescents and young adults in particular.  

Today, mainly as a result of smallish reserves and severe competition (referring to India), wild males with a territory only seldom reach 12 years of age, but a century ago, when one could still walk for weeks in pristine forests without seeing a soul (in southern India in particular), tigers had much more space and more opportunities to learn, to adapt and to grow old. I read many stories about tigers well exceeding 15 years of age. When shot, most of them were in excellent condition. The Pipal Pani Tiger ('Man-eaters of Kumaon', Jim Corbett) is an example, but there are more stories about old tigers shot in India (and Russia) a century ago.    

Anyhow. Watch and admire the blueprint of a true apex predator at age 2,5:        


*This image is copyright of its original author


c8 - In his best years, tiger 'Igor' (Odense Zoo, Denmark) was tall and bulky. As can be seen below, he also had a large and robust head. After he reached 10 years of age, he started struggling with his health. When treated for tooth problems, 'Igor' was weighed. It was the only time he was weighed. Although he had lost quite a bit of weight by then, he still tipped the scale at 230 kg. His weight in his prime is anybody's guess, but the photographs I have suggest he could have compared to the tigers mentioned above:  


*This image is copyright of its original author
  

c9 - This photograph could have been posted by our member 'Amnon'. Some years ago, he visited quite a few zoos and facilities in the Czech republic and Slovakia and often posted about his trips. In his opinion, Amur tigers in Slovak facilities were larger. This could have been one of them:  


*This image is copyright of its original author
   

c10 - This is 'Altai' of the Köln Zoo (Germany). He could (not sure) have been related to 'Gamin' (see c6), whereas tigress 'Hanya', a few years older, was from a French zoo. The tigress was large, but 'Altai', in spite of his age, was exceptional. In 2012, 'Altai' killed his keeper. He was shot by the director of the zoo and later featured in a paper. 

He's one of the few captive male Amur tigers that was measured. His total length was 336.5 cm (HB 240, tail 96,5) and the photographs of his skull suggest the greatest total length could have been over 430 mm. Even allowing for the distortion as a result of the angle, chances are his skull would still top the lists.  

Unfortunately, he wasn't weighed. Those who saw him thought he could have ranged between 250-280 kg. When he was shot, 'Altai' was a young adult. He still had a bit of growing ahead of him, that is. This is confirmed by the skull measurements. At about 430 mm in greatest total length, the zygomatic width was 280 mm. At that length, it should have been closer to 300 mm. The zygomatic width of the skull of an old male that lived in a Japanse zoo, for comparison, was 284 mm, but his skull was about 50 mm shorter (zygomatic width is related to age). 

As can be seen on the photograph below, 'Altai', at 3-4 years of age only, was a large and robust animal. The skull in particular is striking:     


*This image is copyright of its original author



4 - Conclusions

A year ago, in this thread (post 2,579), I posted a number of tables with information about the size of captive Amur tigers. It took me a long time to get to a result, because a lot of information posted on the internet is unreliable. The information I selected suggests captive male Amur tigers (referring to Amur tigers kept in zoos and facilities in Japan, China, Russia, Europe, the USA and South Africa) average 303,1 cm (just over 9.11) in total length measured 'between pegs' (range 279,0-336,5/n=14) and 224,2 kg (range 142,9-320/n=61), whereas females average 255,6 cm (range 223,0-276,5/n=7) and 138,1 kg (range 102,5-178,0/n=27). 

The average weight of males is based on a large sample (n=61). Remember almost a third of the males used for sample was well below 200 kg (442 pounds). The sample also included quite a few males past their prime. If the table would have been based on males in their prime only, the average weight would have been well over 224,2 kg (495 pounds).    

Most of those in the know (trainers, keepers, zoo directors and biologists) think an average captive male Amur tiger is 240-260 kg (540-575 pounds) in his best years. Males exceeding 600 pounds (272,16 kg) are uncommon, but every now and then a male exceeds that mark. Remember I'm referring to tigers in good shape, not obese tigers. Also remember only few adult male Amur tigers are ever weighed in their prime. 

Based on the tables in post 2,579, one could conclude the 'normal' maxima of captive male Amur tigers are 305-320 cm in total length measured 'between pegs', 104-106 cm at the shoulder and 270-290 kg. Exceptional males can reach 336,5 cm, 110-112 cm at the shoulder and 300-320 kg. At that size, the head length can be 50 cm (referring to tigers 10 and 49 in the table in post 2,579).  

The average greatest total skull length of captive male Amur tigers (referring to the tables in post 2,579) is 357,5 mm (range 332,5-380,0/n=16), but my guess is V. Mazak, who wrote male Amur tigers average 367,10 mm in greatest total length ('Der Tiger', 1983, pp. 191), could be right. The only big cat exceeding this average is the Kruger lion. In 'Brain size of the lion (Panthera leo) and the tiger (P. tigris): implications for intrageneric phylogeny, intraspecific differences and the effects of captivity', 2009, Table 4.1), Yamaguchi, one of the four authors, says males average 380 mm (n=15), whereas Indian male tigers average 351 mm (n=37).     

The problem with most averages is they're based on smallish samples used time and again. I've visited many natural history museums and also saw a lot of skulls in private collections. In spite of that, it took me a long time to find even 10 skulls of captive adult male Amur tigers. Skulls of wild Amur tigers are even more elusive. You can find a few measurements of skulls of wild Amur tigers in V. Mazak's 'Notes on the Siberian long-haired tiger (Panthera tigris altaica, Temminck, 1844)', that was published in 1967 (pp. 554-559), in 'On the sexual dimorphism in the skull of the tiger (Panthera tigris)', J.H. Mazak, 2004 and in a few other books and publications, but that's it.

What is needed, is a book that has detailed information (including photographs) about skulls of wild and captive big cats. I'm not referring to a book that offers information at the level of averages only, but to a book in which every skull is discussed. It's the only way to find, and explain, the differences between species and subspecies. It's also the most effective way to describe the differences between male and female skulls and the effects of age and captivity.          

The question, regarding skulls of captive big cats, is if there is a difference between head length and greatest skull length. This is needed in order to get to guesstimates. The answer is we don't know. One thing we know is there is a lot of individual variation. A few examples. 

The greatest total skull length (GTL) of 'Amur' (Prague zoo), who died at age 11,5, is 371 mm. The head length of this tiger was 45 cm. The head length of his son 'Benjamin' was 42 cm. The greatest total skull length of this male, however, is 377 mm. The head length of the Duisburg zoo tiger was 50 cm. Can we use the info about 'Amur' and his son 'Benjamin' to get to a few deductions? I don't know. It's likely the skull of the Duisburg zoo tiger is over 400 mm in greatest total length, but this is an assumption only. 

We also don't know if there are differences in this respect (head length and greatest total skull length) between wild and captive big cats. We do know the longest skull V. Mazak ('Der Tiger', 1983, pp. 191-193) measured was 383 mm (CBL 342 mm/ZW 268 mm). The skull was from an old male from Heilongjiang (northeastern China). Another skull, measured by Baikov and also from that region, allegedly was 16 inches in total length (406,40 mm). V. Mazak (1983, pp 193-194) thought the photograph was real. He added skulls of this size have to be expected when tigers reach an exceptional size.   

And what about the skulls of the tigers shot over a century ago in Cooch Behar, the Duars and Assam by the Maharajah of Cooch Behar and his guests? Some of them ranged between 15 and 16 inches (381,0-406,4 mm). The answer, again, is we don't know. I do know there's usually a difference between a measurement taken by a hunter (or naturalist) and a measurement taken by a biologist or someone who measured a lot of big cat skulls. In a large skull, the difference can be as much as 6-7 mm (referring to my experience). My guess (referring to skulls of tigers shot in what used to be British India) is we'll never know. I do know hunters like memories. Most exceptional skull are in private collections and most owners avoid publicity. 

Are skulls of lions, as many think, really longer than skulls of large wild tigers in Russia, northeastern China, Nepal, northern India and, in particular, northeastern India? Based on what I read, heard and saw, I'd say the answer is affirmative. Time and again, I noticed it's easier to find a 14-inch lion skull than a 14-inch tiger skull. At the level of individual skulls, however, things are more complicated. Skulls of large male tigers, lengthwise, (almost) compare to skulls of large male lions and my guess, for now, is wild tigers of large subspecies could have (relatively) wider (referring to the arches and the rostrum), and perhaps, heavier skulls. In order to get to a solid conclusion, we need detailed information about skulls of wild tigers in particular. The problem is only few skulls were measured a century ago. In this respect, unfortunately, the situation didn't change a lot in the last century.       
           
Returning to captive Amur tigers. There is, like I said, reliable information about Amur tigers well exceeding 320 kg (up to 442,4 kg) in Chinese facilities. The problem is the details needed to get to a conclusion (body and skull measurements as well as photographs) are not available.
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Canada GrizzlyClaws Offline
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@peter 

It would truly be staggering to see the body measurements of that 442.4 kg giant.

Unfortunately, it was never published, and very few captive giants were truly weighed and measured.

That's why we can only see some of those weight figures being afloat around, but never got a chance to have a deeper study on its body measurements.
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( This post was last modified: 11-22-2022, 11:33 PM by peter )

AMUR TIGERS IN NORTHEASTERN CHINA - RECENT INFORMATION - II

5 - Feng Limin: Introduction 

In the first post of this series (post 2,587), scans of different, recent, articles about the situation in northeastern China were discussed. Feng Limin featured in all of them. Although most of those interested in tigers heard about him, only few realize Feng Limin is one of the most active tiger biologists today. He published over 20 papers and currently is a member of the Feline Specialist Group (Cat SG) of the Species Survival Commission (SSC) of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). To say he knows about tigers would be an understatement, that is. 

The aim of this post is to tell you a bit more about him. Paragraph 5a has an overview of his past. Paragraph 5b has an interview published 12-01-2022. After reading his cv and the interview, you, as I did, no doubt will conclude Feng Limin is heavily involved in field work. Has been for over 16 years now. He's the field work leader of the Tiger and Leopard Research Team of the Beijing Normal University. Mainly as a result of the efforts of this team, the largest real-time wildlife monitoring system in the new Northeast Tiger and Leopard National Park (NTLNP) was established. 

In order to be able to find the best places for the cameras, knowledge was needed. Limin and his team, like the old school Russian biologists, achieved their goal the hard way: they walked. It must have taken them a long time to accomplish their mission, as the new National Park, at 14,000 spuare km, is the largest tiger (and leopard) reserve in the world. That's still apart from the severe winters and the terrain (hill country). Although they most probably invested thousands of hours, Feng Limin, known as the 'Savage Professor' because of his decision to go out there himself, never saw a wild Amur tiger.    

Limin's National Scientific Observation and Research Station for Siberian Tiger and Leopard Monitoring, and the research Station of the State Forestry and Grass Administration jointly built an observatory station in the depths of the forest with the Forestry Bureau, the Forest Public Security and the Frontier Defence. The cabin, loaded with instruments, even has a 5G signal.

The equipment installed resulted in more information, more knowledge and, as a result, more protection and, therefore, better breeding conditions. Before the NTLNP was established, about a third of the Amur tiger cubs made it to adulthood. Today, more than half reach that mark. As a result, the population rapidly increased. This year (2022), the number of adult wild Amur tigers will exceed 700. In the near future, depending on the political conditions, there could be 1,000 wild adult Amur tigers in Russia and (northeastern) China combined. A singular achievement without doubt. 
       

5a - Curriculum vitae 


*This image is copyright of its original author


5b - Article published 12-01-2022 (Baidu)

Informative and interesting article. What I remember most is this sentence:

" ... Over the past 16 years, he has been the field work leader of the tiger and leopard research team of Beijing Normal University. With the team's efforts, the Northeast Tiger and Leopard National Park has established the world's largest real-time wildlife monitoring system ... " (from the article below, first page).


*This image is copyright of its original author


*This image is copyright of its original author


*This image is copyright of its original author


*This image is copyright of its original author


*This image is copyright of its original author


*This image is copyright of its original author


5c - Tigers in the STLNP

The new Siberian Tiger and Leopard National Park has a lot of cameras. The direct result is many tigers and leopards have been captured on camera. Some of the photographs and videos show impressive tigers. How do they compare to the tigers captured and weighed in the Sichote-Alin Zapovednik and it's surroundings in the period 1992-2004?

The answer is we don't know. We do know a male recently weighed in northeastern China was 270 kg (597 pounds). According to Feng Limin, who confirmed the 270 kg tiger, another one was over 250 kg (552 pounds). The young male captured in the same region not so long ago (recently discussed in this thread) was 225 kg (497 pounds). 

There could be more heavyweights, both in Russia and in northeastern China. In the last month alone, photographs of two big tigresses and two large males were uploaded (referring to YouTube) by a certain 'Rickstar'. According to him, one of these males, tiger T-38, is considered as one of the largest in Russia. 

The equipent installed in the NTLNP, as stated before, will result in more information, more knowledge and more protection. One result is more cubs get to adulthood. Another is the new reserve will have more prey animals. This means there's no need for tigers to turn to captive animals. Last but not least is large individuals are enabled to pass on their genes and reach their potential.   

That potential is anybody's guess, but a century ago, N. Baikov (in 'Die Säugetiere der Sowjetunion', V.G. Heptner and A.A. Sludskij, Band III, German translation, 1980, pp. 118) thought the 'normal' maximum weights for males and females were 320 kg (707 pounds) and 180 kg (397 pounds) respectively. Today, wild males seem to range between 140-270 kg (310-597 pounds). Old males, like, for example, 'Tikhon' (140 kg), often are thin as a rail, whereas a large male in his prime can reach 270 kg in good conditions (referring to the male recently weighed in northeastern China). One has to remember that most healthy wild Amur tigers, as a result of a very sound policy, will never be captured, measured and weighed.

And what about reports of wild Amur tigers well exceeding the 'normal' maxima? In an evaluation of historic records published (in Russian) in 2005, those involved concluded that most (of the 44) reports were unreliable. The 254 kg (560 pounds) male Baikov shot near the Korean border in 1911 is still regarded as the heaviest wild male Amur tiger. The tiger was measured and weighed and Baikov published a photograph of the tiger. Records of tigers well exceeding that mark, also shot by Baikov, however, were not accepted and a large male shot in 1943 in Manchuria wasn't even mentioned. Remarkable, as the tiger was discussed in a book published by V. Jankowski. V. Mazak corresponded with V. Jankowski. He published a photograph of the tiger in his book 'Der Tiger' (1983, pp. 186). 

One of our longtime members (GuateGojira) monitors the weight situation. Based on records he considers reliable, he concluded wild male Amur tigers average about 200 kg (442 pounds). Wild male Indian tigers could be a tad heavier, but, seen from a distance, one could conclude they roughly compare and be very close. Male lions living in the southwestern part of Africa (South Africa, Namibia and, perhaps, Botswana) are quite close (referring to averages), but India, Russia and northeastern China seem to produce more large individuals. With 'large', I mean tigers exceeding 480 pounds (217,73 kg) and 9.8 (294,64 cm) measured 'between pegs'. Maybe Guate, when he has time, will be able to post a few updated tables in this thread.
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( This post was last modified: 11-28-2022, 08:09 PM by Apex Titan )

In addition to my previous post on Amur tiger predation on Himalayan bears, here's some more interesting notes on Amur tiger predation on Ussuri (Himalayan) black bears, the heaviest weights and aggression of Ussuri black bears, and the intelligence of the tiger from Mikhail Krechmar's (Russian bear specialist and hunting biologist) book on bears: "The Furry god".

The weight range of large Ussuri black bears:

"The largest of the white-breasted bears examined by Professor G.F. Bromley, a well-known explorer of Primorye, weighed 192 kilograms, the naturalist V.P. Sysoev got a male weighing 220 kilograms. The famous zoologist S.P. Kucherenko did not come across animals that weighed more than 180 kilograms. Zoologist Vladimir Aramilev shot a bear weighing 260 kilograms, which is an absolute record today."

The Siberian Tiger Project biologists weighed a large male Ussuri black bear of 205 kg (451 lbs), almost the same weight as the adult male tiger 'Dima' (455 lbs):



*This image is copyright of its original author


https://vladnews.ru/ev/vl/1360/53407/medvedi_batareykah


Aggression of the Ussuri black bear:

"However, despite the general syndrome of vegetarianism, the white-breasted bear is reputed to be the most conflicting animal in the south of the Russian Far East. In case of an unexpected meeting with a person, it is the “white-breasted” who is inclined, without hesitation, to go on the attack. It was this beast that marked with its claws many hunters in Primorye and the south of the Khabarovsk Territory." ...

"The rut of the Himalayan bears takes place in June-July. It flows, according to zoologists, in a rather calm form, but the bad bear character still makes itself felt, and therefore fights between males are a common thing. But they are not carried out with such bitterness as among the brown brothers."



Tiger predation on Ussuri black bears:

"As the main enemies of the white-breasted bear, in addition to humans, one can name a tiger and a brown bear. The tiger is the most constant and worst enemy of this beast. Some even claim that he prefers bear meat to other meat. But a significant share in this organic hostility of his is, of course, an innate hatred for any large predators that seem to him possible competitors and simply enemies. Tigers usually catch bears in small forests, in clearings and in other places devoid of large trees, where the bear used to seek its salvation."


A rare case of a tiger couple (mating pair) habitually hunting for bears, also showing the high intelligence of a tiger:

"During a tiger census in the winter of 2005 in the southern Sikhote-Alin, scientist Viktor Gaponov discovered two tigers that were purposefully looking for white-breasted bears lying in dens. Tigers literally “gnawed” these bears out of their dens, killed them and ate them." ...

"At first, this story seemed completely unbelievable to me - a white-breasted bear usually lies down in the hollow of a living tree, and is separated from the outside world by a ring of 20-25 centimeters of raw frozen wood. This tree hardly yields to an ax, and not only to the teeth and claws of the beast. In fact, it turned out that the tigers took advantage of the very specific conditions that developed as a result of a fire on one of the spurs of the Sikhote-Alin. The cedar forest on this spur after it fell withered on the vine, and from many trees, which then rotted, only the base remained in the form of a thin hollow "pipe" with a wall thickness of about five to ten centimeters. The tigers coped with this defense easily."...

"Scientists have found one Himalayan bear sitting on a tree with a torn off foot, and under the tree - traces of two large Amur tigers. The next day, the researchers returned to this place, but found only traces of a feast of striped predators. Local hunters claim that this is not the first bear hunt of the “striped couple”.

"Researchers of the Far East, such as N. Baikov and S. Kucherenko, consider the Amur tiger one of the main enemies of the white-breasted bear. But such a case of “brigade specialization” (hunting bears in pairs) of striped predators when hunting a bear was noted for the first time."

"In Russia, it is believed that the black bear is terribly afraid of even the tracks of a tiger. One trainer argued that if tigers “worked” in the circus arena, then the Himalayan bears then categorically refuse to do anything on it for quite a long time, even if the carpet is treated with sawdust with mothballs. However, in India, the Himalayan bear is not very shy in front of striped cats and happens to put them to flight. At least, such a famous hunter and fauna connoisseur as Jim Corbett writes about this with confidence. Although, I admit that the Bengal tiger does not inspire such respect (from a bearish point of view) as its Ussuri counterpart."

https://www.livelib.ru/book/147686/readp...rechmar/~9


In addition to the remarks about the weights of large Ussuri black bears, here is the tracks of a large male Himalayan bear, who had a palm callus width of 12 cm, similar in size to the 206 kg adult male tiger Dima (12.5 cm - palm callus width):

"For example, traces of a large bear (width of palm callus imprint - large pad of the front paw - 12 cm) approximately a day old were found on March 31, 2005 in the valley of the river."


*This image is copyright of its original author


https://elementy.ru/nauchno-populyarnaya...Khekhtsira

A Himalayan black bear with a large palm callus width of 12 cm, likely weighs 180 - 205 kg.


Conclusions:

1) Large male Ussuri black bears weigh up to 150 - 260 kg. The normal maximum weight is 200 kg, but much heavier males well in excess of 200 kg have been found. Sergey Aramilev (2021) stated that large male Himalayan bears can weigh up to 250 kg, Kolchin (2022) also stated that large, old males exceed 200 kg in weight, and have a body length of 2 meters. The STP biologists weighed a huge male Himalayan black bear of 205 kg (451 lbs), nearly the same weight as the adult male tiger 'Dima'. 

2) Ussuri black bears weigh an average of 130-140 kg in summer, but bear species have huge individual variation in weights and sizes. A full-grown adult male of one bear species may weigh only 145 kg, whereas another male of the same subspecies can weigh well over 200 kg. The weight/size variation is greatly pronounced. Some large male Himalayan bears get really huge.

3) Although tigers are solitary hunters and almost always hunt bears single-handedly, there are rare cases of a "Tiger couple" hunting bears. Jim Corbett also mentioned a well-known case of a pair of mating tigers that attacked and killed a large bull tusker elephant after a prolonged battle.

4) Although Bengal tigers also hunt and kill bears, the Amur tiger seems to strike fear in bears to a much greater extent. This is due to the fact that Amur tigers hunt bears far more often than Bengal tigers do. In fact, of all the tiger subspecies, the Amur tiger is the true 'bear specialist'. This is interesting because the bears (Ussuri brown & black bears) living in the Amur tigers habitats, are larger than the bears living in the habitat of the Bengal tiger.

5) The fact that tigers hunt and kill (primarily in summer & autumn) the largest male Ussuri black bears, and the largest adult female brown bears, strongly indicates that bears weighing 150 - 250 kg, are hunted by tigers. This was also confirmed by the large male tiger 'Dima', who hunted and killed huge female brown bears almost his own size. 
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( This post was last modified: Yesterday, 12:50 AM by Apex Titan )

Credits to Nyers. 

New account of an Amur tiger that killed a huge male brown bear 

Brutal fight to the death: Amur tiger killed and ate a brown bear in a nature reserve near Khabarovsk

Remains of the huge male brown bear killed and eaten by the male tiger 'Odyr': (November 29, 2022)


*This image is copyright of its original author



The Amur tiger is an absolute predator. This means that he has no natural enemies, and he feels like a full-fledged ruler of the Far Eastern taiga. Only a brown bear can compete with him for this title. These disputes are most often bloody and cruel.


BLOODY MASSACRE

Traces of one of these fights were found in the southern region of the Bolshekhekhtsirsky Reserve. An impressive size bear (the width of the callus of the front paw is 18 centimeters) did not have time to hibernate. And this became a fatal mistake - the Amur tiger overtook the clubfoot.

- Judging by the traces, the fight here unfolded serious. The animals fought for a long time, but the tiger still won. He didn't get hurt. Such a conclusion can be drawn due to the absence of bloody stains at the place of his lying down - that is, rest, which we found next to the half-eaten bear carcass. The tiger will probably return here later to continue eating for a few more days, - said Yuri Kya, chief engineer for forest protection and forestry activities of the Bolshekhekhtsirsky Reserve.

WHO IS THE KILLER?

Experts suggest that the tiger Odyr killed the bear. The male most often prefers to walk in this area of the reserve. The tiger sometimes appears in the northern part of Bolshekhekhtsirsky. The female Zlata lives here, to which Odyr visits.

This summer, bears have repeatedly become the prey of tigers. The inspectors found the remains of the Himalayan bears and the excrement of the tiger, in which the claws of the clubfoot were found. Most often, the victims of the striped were one-year-old individuals. The tiger confidently defeats the Himalayan bear until the age of three.

https://www.hab.kp.ru/daily/27477/4684605/?fromrss=582


https://www.mk.ru/incident/2022/11/28/am...vskom.html

https://info24.ru/news/tigr-rasterzal-me...dnike.html

https://hab.aif.ru/incidents/tigr_ubil_m...vskom_krae

http://khabarovsk-news.net/society/2022/...77001.html

Here's the video and pictures of this incident:

https://vk.com/zapovedamur?w=wall-104014369_1614


The debate has finally ended. We now have a 100% (undeniable) confirmed account and report by specialists, of a tiger hunting and killing a large adult male brown bear in a fight. Huge male brown bears are clearly not immune to tiger predation, and this account confirms that some adult male tigers do hunt, fight and kill large male brown bears.

This case adds even more credence to the account (from biologist Alexander Batalov) of the tiger 'Ochkarik' killing the giant male brown bear 'Chlamida'.

The amazing thing is, the tiger was able to slaughter a very large male brown bear in a prolonged fight, without sustaining any injuries whatsoever. Incredible!
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