The tiger (Panthera tigris) is a member of the Felidae family; the largest of the four "big cats" in the genus Panthera. Native to much of eastern and southern Asia, the tiger is an apex predator and an obligate carnivore.
Reaching up to 3.3 metres (11 ft) in total length and weighing up to
300 kilograms (660 pounds), the larger tiger subspecies are comparable
in size to the biggest extinct felids. Aside from their great bulk and power, their most recognisable feature is a pattern of dark vertical stripes that overlays near-white to reddish-orange fur, with lighter underparts. The most numerous tiger subspecies is the Bengal tiger while the largest subspecies is the Siberian tiger.
Highly adaptable, tigers range from the Siberian taiga, to open grasslands, to tropical mangrove
swamps. They are territorial and generally solitary animals, often
requiring large contiguous areas of habitat that support their prey
demands. This, coupled with the fact that they are endemic to some of
the more densely populated places on earth, has caused significant
conflicts with humans. Of the nine subspecies of modern tiger, three
are extinct and the remaining six are classified as endangered, some critically so. The primary direct causes are habitat destruction and fragmentation, and hunting. Their historical range once stretched from Mesopotamia and the Caucasus through most of South and East Asia.
Today it has been radically reduced. While all surviving species are
under formal protection, poaching, habitat destruction and inbreeding depression continue to threaten the species.
Tigers are among the most recognisable and popular of the world's charismatic megafauna. They have featured prominently in ancient mythology and folklore, and continue to be depicted in modern films and literature. Tigers appear on many flags and coats of arms, as mascots for sporting teams, and as the national animal of several Asian nations, including India.