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Tiger (Panthera tigris) Fact Sheet: Distribution & Habitat


Current distribution (reviewed in Chundawat, Habib, et al. 2011)

  • Panthera tigris range
    • 2006 estimate: 1,184,911 km2 (462,000 mi2) (Sanderson et al. 2006)
    • 42 protected "source sites" have confirmed tiger presence and evidence of breeding (Walston, Karanth et al. 2010)
  • 6 bio-regions roughly define subspecific distributions (from Dinerstein et al. 1997; Luo et al. 2004)
    • Bengal tiger (P. t. tigris)
      • Indian sub-continent
      • India, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, and Bangladesh
    • Indochinese tiger (P. t. corbetti)
      • Indochina north of Malayan peninsula
    • Malayan tiger (P. t. jacksoni)
      • Malayan Peninsula
    • Sumatran tiger (P. t. sumatrae)
      • Island of Sumatra
    • Amur tiger (P. t. altaica)
      • Russian Far East (primarily the southern region)
        • Sikhote-Alin Mountains
          • A large population
        • Primorye Krai
          • 2 smaller populations inhabit the area
        • Parts of northeastern China
    • South China tiger (P. t. amoyensis)
      • Likely extinct in the wild

Historical distribution (reviewed in Chundawat, Habib, et al. 2011)

  • Broad former range
    • Continuous span through Asia, from Turkey to the eastern coast of Russia (Nowell and Jackson 1996)
    • P. t. amoyensis range covered 16 countries (Nyhus 2008)
    • P. t. virgata occupied riverine forest areas of Central Asia (Driscoll et al. 2009)
  • Loss of range
    • Tigers have lost 93% of their former range over past 150 years (Dinerstein et al. 2006; Sanderson et al. 2006)
    • Tiger ranges in Indochina, Southeast Asia, and Russian Far East have decreased by about 41% since 1995 (Sanderson et al. 2006)
    • Rate of loss has rapidly accelerated in recent years (Dinerstein et al. 2007)
    • Extinct in Laos (Rasphone et al. 2019)


Broadly tolerant to numerous environments (Hunter 2011; Sunquist et al. 1999)

  • Inhabit areas with dense vegetation
    • Temperate and tropical forests (Hunter 2011)
      • Semi-evergreen and wet evergreen forests
      • Riverine, swamp, and mangrove habitat
      • Coniferous-deciduous, tropical rain forest (Sunquist et al. 1999)
      • Dry deciduous and moist deciduous forests
    • Forest-grassland mosaics (Hunter 2011)
      • Floodplain grasslands near forests
  • Elevation range
    • Coastal to high mountain elevations
      • Typically under 2,000 m (6,562 ft) (Hunter 2011)
    • Confirmed camera-trap sightings up to 4,200 m (13,780 ft) (Jigme and Tharchen 2012)

Typically avoid human-dominated landscapes (Goodrich 2010)

  • Young and old/wounded/diseased venture near humans
    • Some young tigers searching for vacant territories come into contact with human settlements

Basic requirements

  • Seldom far from water (Sunquist and Sunquist 1991)
    • Sufficient water needed for tigers and their prey (Tilson 1998)
  • Sufficient prey base and plant cover for hunting (Tilson 1998)
    • Connected forests needed to provide good prey and sufficient undisturbed breeding area (Jhala 2011)
    • Prey is a critical factor
      • Tigers reach highest densities in habitats that allow greatest ungulate prey diversity and biomass (Karanth et al. 2004)
      • Tigers in habitats with abundant large prey can reproduce rapidly, recover from large losses (Seidensticker et al. 1999)

Habitat and tiger density (from Seidensticker et al. 1999)

  • Highest densities habitats
    • Grassland and forest mosaics with mix of many vegetation types ("edge habitats")
      • Royal Chitwan National Park, Nepal
        • 2.8-3.7 tigers/100 km2 (or 39 mi2)
  • Lowest density habitats
    • Temperate woodland and forest habitats
      • Sikhote-Alin Reserve, Russia
        • 0.2 tigers/100 km2 (or 39 mi2)
  • See Fig. 3 Seidensticker (2010) for a map of potential tiger habitats

Distribution Map

map of tiger distribution

Panthera tigris distribution.

Adapted from according to IUCN fact sheet. Click here or on map for detailed distribution (IUCN).

Page Citations

Chundawat, Habib, et al. (2011)
Dinerstein et al. (1997)
Dinerstein et al. (2007)
Driscoll et al. (2009)
Hunter (2011)
Jhala et al. (2011)
Jigme and Tharchen (2012)
Karanth (1991)
Karanth et al. (2004)
Luo et al. (2004)
Nowell and Jackson (1996)
Nyhus (2008)
Sanderson et al. (2006)
Seidensticker et al. (1999)
Sunquist et al. (1999)
Sunquist and Sunquist (1991)
Tilson (1998)
Walston, Karanth et al. (2010)

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