Tigers are the largest species of cats on earth, with males growing as large as 14 feet long, including the tail, and weighing up to 650 pounds. In the wild, tigers inhabit various countries throughout Asia, and their habitats range from mountain forests to equatorial rain forests.
The scientific name for tigers is "Panthera tigris," and six sub-species exist within the species. These sub-species include the Siberian or Amur tiger, the Sumatran tiger, the North Indochinese tiger, the Bengal tiger, and the South China or Amoy tiger. Three other subspecies, the Javan tiger, Caspian tiger, and Balinese tiger, have gone extinct. As of 2015, tigers remain a severely endangered species, and several of the remaining six subspecies are close to extinction.
In the past, hunting often threatened the tiger population, as trophy hunting for tigers was a popular sport, especially in India. As many nations have since made trophy hunting illegal, the loss of natural habitat became the most serious threat to tiger populations. A diminishing number of prey animals due to excessive hunting has also placed tiger populations at risk. Despite attempts to curtail it, illegal poaching remains a threat, as tiger bone is believed to have medicinal properties in China.