Panthera tigris jacksoni
by Ms. Nurfarhana Hizan Binti Hijas
Panthera tigris jacksoni
by Ms. Nurfarhana Hizan Binti Hijas

The tiger or Panthera tigris is the largest member in the family Felidacea. Panthera tigris is split into nine subspecies including Panthera tigris jacksoni which was recognized as a new subspecies in 2004. It is commonly known as the Malayan tiger or Harimau Malaya in Malay. Three of the tiger subspecies namely, Bali tiger (Panthera tigris balica), Javan tiger (Panthera tigris sondaica) and Caspian tiger (Panthera tigris virgata) became extinct during the 20th century.

The general physical characteristics of Panthera tigris jacksoni are quite similar to those of the other subspecies but there may be some differences in terms of skull shape, number of teeth, size, colour and stripe pattern. Most tigers have a reddish-orange coat with vertical black stripes on their body that vary in size, length and spacing. Some subspecies have paler coloured fur while others are darker in colour with either black or dark brown stripes. Tigers in general can grow up to 3 m in length and weigh up to 330 kg. They like water and can swim very well. They can easily cross streams and rivers as wide as 6 to 8 km (Mazák, 1981). They are carnivores and their diet includes deer, wild boar, sun bear, young elephant and rhino calves.

Another subspecies of the tiger, Panthera tigris corbetti from Indochina, is nearly identical to the Malayan tiger in terms of morphology. However, genetic analysis has found that there are differences in their mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and micro-satellite sequences which justifies separating the two subspecies (Luo et al., 2009).

The Malayan tiger is an endemic subspecies because it is only found on the Malay Peninsula and the southern tip of Thailand. Panthera tigris jacksoni is categorized as Critically Endangered (CR) by The IUCN Red List (Kawanishi, 2015) due to major threats to their population caused by forest degradation, poaching activities and the wildlife trade, especially for tiger parts.


  1. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved November 30, 2016, from
  2. Luo, S.J., Johnson, W.E., Smith, J.L.D. & O'Brien, S.J. (2009). Panthera tigris jacksoni. Tigers of the world: The Science, Politics and Conservation of Panthera tigris. Second Edition. pp. 46-47
  3. Mazak, V. (1981). Panthera tigris. Mammalian Species (152): pp. 1-8
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Today, there are less than 200 Malayan tigers left in our country.
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