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Tigre de Sumatra © MNHN - F-G Grandin

Sumatran tiger

With a maximum weight of 140 kg, the Sumatran tiger, Panthera tigris sumatrae, is the smallest of the tigers. It is also one of the most endangered, with fewer than 400 individuals in the wild.


Class, order & family :

Mammalia, Carnivora, Felidae

Genus :


Species :


Subspecies :


Lifespan :

20 years

Height and weight :

1 m at the shoulder; 140 kg at the most

Gestation :

~ 3 months, 2 to 3 babies

Natural habitat :

lowland and mountain forests

Diet :

deer, antelopes, wild boar, tapir, etc.

Native region :


Conservation programme :


IUCN status: 

CR, critically endangered

Way of life

Like a majority of big cats, the Sumatran tiger is a solitary animal that reigns over a territory, the size of which depends on the availability of prey. The territory of a male can cover that of 2 to 4 females. He marks it out by scratching trees and with jets of urine... Males and females only meet when they mate. The mother raises young ones alone for around a year and a half.

It hunts by lying in wait, its stripes helping it camouflage itself in the vegetation. It is capable of swimming several kilometres.

Distinguishing features

The Sumatran tiger’s darker coat, tighter and more numerous stripes and its long white whiskers set it apart from other subspecies of tiger. It is thought that the Sumatran tiger was isolated on the island when waters rose between 6,000 and 12,000 years ago. As a result, its genetics differ from those of continental tigers (such as the Bengal or Siberian tiger).


The Sumatran tiger’s close relatives, the Bali tiger and Javan tiger, who were the same size as the Sumatran tiger, disappeared in around 1940 and 1980 respectively. As for the Sumatran tiger, only 500 individuals remain in the wild at best, 400 of which are in reserves or national parks. As well as poaching, which is based on trafficking claws and teeth, it is also being hit hard by a major increase in the human population. By expanding its breeding, agricultural and industrial activity, humans are damaging the environment and destroying entire forest plots, thus isolating the tiger populations. A number of regional and international programmes, both in situ and ex situ, are actively fighting to protect the Sumatran tiger through breeding plans, monitoring and boosting populations, creating reserves and rehabilitation centres, cooperating with local populations, and so on.

Jeunes tigres de Sumatra © MNHN - F-G Grandin
Jeune tigre de Sumatra © MNHN - F-G Grandin
Tigre de Sumatra © MNHN - F-G Grandin
Tigre de Sumatra © MNHN - F-G Grandin
Tigre de Sumatra © MNHN - F-G Grandin
Tigres de Sumatra à la Réserve © MNHN - F-G Grandin