Tigers are exceedingly rare. They're also very solitary creatures. So why are there 11 of them gathered in this photograph?
These aren't your typical tigers. The cats you see here live in China's Heilongjiang Northeast Tiger Forest Park, the largest Siberian tiger breeding base on Earth. When it was founded in the mid eighties, the Park had only 8 tigers. Today, that number is estimated by some to be upwards of 800.
New Scientist's Rowan Hooper writes:
The Siberian tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) - also known as the Amur tiger - is classified as endangered on the IUCN Red List. Most of the estimated 400 Siberian tigers in the wild are in Russia, with a few in China. The wild ones, not unlike those in this tiger park, are heavily inbred, having passed through a genetic bottleneck in the 20th century, during which 95 per cent of all tigers were killed.
This means that although the Chinese park contains hundreds of Siberian tigers, and there are those wild ones in Russia, the population's genetic diversity - which is a good guide to its vulnerability to extinction - is equivalent to that of just 14 individuals.
These tigers live, hunt, play, and even feed together — taking meals from trained caretakers, prowling for young steers that are released into the park, and chasing down live chickens, which tourists can pay to fling at the massive predators.
Photos by Sheng Li via Reuters