In the wild, tigers are found in India, Nepal, China, Russia, Bhutan, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Sumatra (Indonesia) and Malaysia. Eight sub-species of tiger existed in the past out of which three have been extinct for many years. The five surviving sub species of tiger are
- Indian Tiger or Royal Bengal Tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) found in India, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh;
- Indo-Chinese tiger (Panthera tigris corbetti) mainly found in Thailand and Peninsular Malaysia but are also found in Myanmar, Southern China, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam;
- Siberian or Amur Tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) found in far east Russia;
- Sumatran Tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) found in the Indonesian island of Sumatra;
- South China Tiger (Panthera tigris amoyensis) found in China. The population found in Peninsular Malaysia has been given a status of separate sub species Panthera tigris jacksoni.
The three sub species of tigers that became extinct in the past century are: the Bali Tiger (Panthera tigris balica) that was found in the Indonesian island of Bali, the Javan Tiger (Panthera tigris sondaica) that was found in the Indonesian island of Java and the Caspian Tiger (Panthera tigris virgata) that was found in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkey, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Caucasus, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Recent reports indicate that the South China tiger is also extinct in the wild. Recent genetic studies indicate that the Caspian and Siberian tigers may have been the same sub species.