3 Extinct Types of Tigers 

Written by Brandi Allred
Updated: November 11, 2022
Image Credit public domain
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Key Points

  • Less than 3,000 tigers currently exist in the wild occupying just 4% of their former ranges.
  • While scientists were once able to count nine species of these large felines, three are now extinct.
  • All tiger subspecies are either Critically Endangered or Functionally Extinct.

Tigers are some of the most beautiful, famous creatures on the planet. They’re the largest felines on Earth, bigger than even lions and leopards. Like other big cats, tigers are apex predators and often control large territories. However, tigers have long been hunted by humans for both their fur and because of their predatory natures. Today, there are nearly as many extinct types of tigers as there are living tigers. Globally, no matter how they’re classified, all tigers are either already extinct or in extreme danger of extinction.

Here, we’ll learn about the three subspecies of extinct types of tigers. As of 2017, the IUCN recognized only two official species of tiger—the Sunda island tiger, and the continental tiger. Continental tigers include Amur, Indochinese, South China, Caspian, Malayan, and Bengal tigers. Sunda island tigers include Sumatran, Javan, and Bali tigers. 

Let’s take a closer look at the three recently extinct types of tigers.

1. Javan Tiger

Extinct Animals: Javan Tiger
Known scientifically as Panthera tigris sondaica, the Javan tiger went extinct in the 1970s.

Sigit Adhi Wibowo/Shutterstock.com

Habitat and Range

Native to the island of Java in Indonesia, Javan tigers are one of the saddest examples of extinct types of tigers. These tigers lived in the rainforests of Java, which used to cover much of the island. With the influx of people in the 19th and 20th centuries, the rainforests largely disappeared, replaced by agricultural land. Javan tigers survived the longest in the remotest parts of Java, like the mountainous Meru Betiri region.

Size and Appearance

Javan tigers grew to around eight feet long and weighed between 200-300 pounds. They had long, thin, black stripes that ran from their backs to their bellies. Like all tigers, they had rounded ears and huge canine teeth.

Diet and Behavior

As apex predators, these extinct types of tiger preyed on many small and medium-sized mammals. These included deer, like the Javan rusa, wild boar, and banteng, a type of Indonesian cattle.

2. Bali Tiger

Formerly known as Panthera tigris balica, these extinct types of tigers went extinct in the 1950s.

Hary Atwell / Creative Commons – License

Habitat and Range

Bali tigers were the regional subspecies of tigers that lived only on Bali, an island in Indonesia. Like Java tigers, they preferred the lush tropical rainforests of the island, where game was plenty. By the 1940s, European hunters, who had arrived to colonize Bali, had hunted these rare, magnificent beasts to extinction. 

Size and Appearance

Bali tigers were very close in appearance to the extinct Java tigers. They were said to possess brighter orange fur, and have slightly smaller, narrower heads than their cousins. They grew up to 8.5 feet long and weighed up to 220 pounds. Bali tigers are one of the smallest extinct types of tigers.

Diet and Behavior

Bali tigers subsisted on a diet of mammals, reptiles, birds, and even fish. They hunted and ate wild boar, muntjac, and deer. Like all tigers, Bali tigers were mostly solitary hunters, with males and females occupying distinct territories. Females provided 100% of parental care to cubs, who likely stayed with their mothers for the first couple of years.

3. Caspian Tiger

Caspian Tiger
The Caspian tiger is one of the most impressive of all extinct types of tigers.

public domain – License

Habitat and Range

Until their extinction in the early 2000s, these extinct types of tiger lived across Asia, the Middle East, and even Eastern Europe. Caspian tigers were native to western China, southern Russia, Ukraine, the Caucasus region, Mesopotamia, Turkey, Iran, and Afghanistan. They frequented forested regions as well as the lands surrounding permanent bodies of water, such as rivers and lakes.

Size and Appearance

Caspian tigers were larger than their island-dwelling cousins. The largest grew to over nine feet long and would have weighed well over 300 pounds. They had bright orange fur, tending towards cream near the face and belly. Their stripes were dark brown and thin, with brown bars on the tails. Like all tigers, they had rounded ears and powerful jaws.

Diet and Behavior

Caspian tigers likely ate a variety of mammals, including deer, wild pig, and mountain sheep. Little is known about their behavior in the wild, though human hunters frequently took advantage of their meat-eating habits to trap and kill these incredible creatures. Far more is known about what killed Caspian tigers off. Namely, overhunting by humans, loss of habitat to agricultural needs, and the loss of game animals.

How Many Types of Tigers are Left?

How Many Tigers Are Left in the World Cover image
Tigers are one of the rarest creatures on earth. whose future depends on the actions of humans.

Today, science recognizes two official species of tiger: the continental tiger, and the Sunda island tiger. However, in the past scientists classified as many as nine types of tiger, three of which are now extinct. One more subspecies, the South China tiger, is considered functionally extinct, as no live specimen has been seen in over ten years.

Tiger Conservation: What You Can Do

Today, fewer than 3,000 tigers live in the wild, occupying under 4% of their historic ranges. All subspecies are either Critically Endangered or functionally extinct. One of the biggest threats to their continued existence is the black market trade in exotic animals and exotic animal parts. Habitat loss and fragmentation are also threats to our few remaining tigers. The first step in protecting tigers is to educate yourself on why these creatures are so important and what can be done to save them.

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Caspian Tiger
Panthera tigris tigris, the Caspian tiger, one of the most impressive of all extinct types of tigers. Unlike Java and Bali tigers, Caspian tigers did not live on islands.
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About the Author

Brandi is a professional writer by day and a fiction writer by night. Her nonfiction work focuses on animals, nature, and conservation. She holds degrees in English and Anthropology, and spends her free time writing horror, scifi, and fantasy stories.

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Sources
  1. , Available here: https://www.worldwildlife.org/species/tiger
  2. , Available here: https://wildlifeday.org/content/factsheets/tiger
  3. , Available here: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0004125