Bali Tiger - Panthera tigris balica

Kingdom Animalia

Bali Tiger Shot 1925

Photo (upper): This photograph of a killed Bali tiger surfaced amongst the papers of the hunter who shot it in 1925. Little more is known. The copyright licence for this image is unknown. It might be in the public domain in Indonesia if it was first published there more than 50 years ago, according to Article 30 of Indonesia Copyright Law No 19, 2002. 

Bali Tiger Male

Photo (lower): An old killed Bali Tiger male. Little more is known. The copyright licence for this image is unknown. It might be in the public domain in Indonesia if it was first published there more than 50 years ago, according to Article 30 of Indonesia Copyright Law No 19, 2002. 

Phylum Chordata
Class Mammalia
Order Carnivora
Family Felidae
Genus Panthera
Species Panthera tigris
Subspecies Panthera tigris balica
Authority (Schwarz, 1912)
TSEW Status Extinct (EX), Year assessed: 2010
IUCN Status Extinct (EX), Year assessed: 2008
English Name Bali Tiger, Balinese Tiger
Balinese Name Samong
Bulgarian Name Балийски тигър
Chinese Name 巴厘虎
Croatian Name Balijski Tigar
Danish Name Bali-tiger
Dutch Name Balinese Tijger
Estonian Name Bali Tiiger
Finnish Name Balintiikeri
French Name Tigre de Bali
Georgian Name ბალის ვეფხვი
German Name Bali-Tiger
Indonesian Name Harimau Bali
Italian Name Tigre di Bali
Japanese Name バリトラ
Korean Name 발리호랑이
Portuguese Name Tigre-de-bali
Russian Name Балийский тигр
Slovak Name Tiger Pásavý Balijský
Spanish Name Tigre de Bali, Tigre balinés
Swedish Name Balitiger
Thai Name เสือโคร่งบาหลี
Turkish Name Bali kaplanı
Ukrainian Name Балійський тигр

The taxonomic affinity of Southeast Asian tigers has been re-investigated by J.H. Mazák and C.P. Groves. Specimens of four traditionally recognized tiger (Panthera tigris) subspecies were examined using various craniological methods, including multivariate craniometric and phenetic analysis. They conclude that Sumatran tigers (Panthera tigris sumatrae) differ absolutely (100%) from the geographically neighbouring mainland form Panthera tigris corbetti; and that the Javanese tiger (Panthera tigris sondaica) is also 100% distinguishable from the Sumatran. According to these scientists they are therefore regarded as two distinct species (Panthera sumatrae and Panthera sondaica) under the Phylogenetic Species Concept (PSC). The Bali tiger is than classified as a subspecies of the Javanese tiger, Panthera sondaica balica. (Mazák and Groves 2006) However for now, The Sixth Extinction Website still regards the Bali tiger as Panthera tigris balica. This may change when there is consensus among scientists about its true taxonomy.


The Bali tiger was the smallest subspecies of the tiger Panthera tigris (Linnaeus, 1758). Its weight did not exceed 100 kg. Its size was comparable with the size of a leopard (Panthera pardus) and it was only about half the size of the Siberian (Amur) tiger subspecies (Panthera tigris altaica). The Bali tiger is apart from its small size, very similar to the Javan subspecies (also extinct), with the same dense pattern of stripes, but perhaps a shade darker. The Bali tiger had a short, dense fur that was of a deep orange colour and carried darker and fewer stripes than the other tiger subspecies. The stripes were wide and tended to branch out. Between the stripes there appeared occasional small black spots. Light areas were of a clear white colour and this subspecies had unusual bars on the head. The skull of the Bali tiger can be identified due to differences in the teeth and nasal bone, which distinguish it from the other subspecies.

Range & Habitat

Bali Tiger RangeThis subspecies lived on the Indonesian Island of Bali. The tiger population on Bali became isolated from that on Java after the last Ice Age, when the Bali Strait separated the two islands. As far as we know it’s habitat was restricted to the shoreline region of the western part of the island.

Image: the former range of the Bali Tiger (in red). Created by Peter Maas for The Sixth Extinction Website. This image has been licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives 3.0 licence.

History & Population

Because Bali is a small island, the tiger population on Bali must always have been quite low. Rapid increase in the human population and a rising demand for agricultural land led to deforestation. This has led to the destruction and fragmentation of the already small tiger habitat. At the beginning of the 20th century, tigers probably survived only in the mountainous and relatively sparsely populated western part of the island. Here hunting pressure increased as the country was gradually opened up and many Europeans living in Java organised hunting trips to Bali. As early as the mid-1930s most Bali tigers were museum or trophy specimens. Both trophy hunters and locals carried new and more-efficient firearms. Between the two World Wars the Bali tiger was hunted indiscriminately and by the end of World War II the Balinese subspecies is thought to have disappeared altogether.

The last Bali tigers lived in the north-western tip of the island. The last well-documented specimen was killed there at Sumbar Kima, West Bali, on 27th September 1937 (Day, 1981). This was an adult tigress.

An exact date of extinction is unknown as throughout the 1940s reports persisted that tigers still lived on the island. These came from people considered to be reliable and they continued into the 1950s, though with a reducing frequency. One instance occurred in 1952 when a Dutch forestry officer reported seeing a Bali tiger. There have even sightings continued to surface in the 1970s. One suspected sighting was in a western reserve in 1970 and the Balinese Forestry workers reported another in 1972. Despite these positive reports it is almost certain that the Bali tiger is extinct and little chance it will ever be rediscovered. The remaining forest areas on Bali are simply no longer large enough to provide a tiger with the required shelter and food source.

Extinction Causes

Human population increase, together with agricultural development and deforestation, has led to the disappearance and fragmentation of the already small tiger habitat. The final blow was made by extensively hunting by Europeans.

Conservation Attemps

In 1941, the Bali Barat National Park was established in tiger habitat. Captive breeding was also not an option, because there are no records of a Bali tiger in captivity. (Jackson & Nowell 2008)

Museum Specimens There have been preserved only eight skulls, five skins and some bones of the Bali tiger in scientific collections. 

The National Museum of Natural History “Naturalis” in Leiden, the Netherlands, has one skin, a skull, and some bones of the Bali tiger. The skin is from a young adult that has probably been killed at the end of 1933 by a Dutch medical doctor living on Java. It has been used as a floor rug so it is fairly worn and faded. 

The Senckenberg Museum in Frankfurt, Germany, has the holotype of the Bali tiger. Its collection contains a skin and a skull of a subadult (or very young adult) female shot in 1909 by K. Gründler in Den Pasar region in South Bali. (Mazák et al. 1978)

The Naturkunde-Museum in Stuttgart, Germany, has two skulls of adult females. One originates from Medevi, Central Bali from 4 August 1924. The other one originates from Poeloekan (=Pulukan) in Central Bali from 16 September 1926. (Mazák et al. 1978)

The British Museum (Natural History) in London, United Kingdom, has two skins and three skulls. One skin and skull are of an adult male from Sendang, North Central Bali. It was received in the museum on 1 December 1937. Another skin and skull are of an adult male from "Bali Island" and was received by the museum on 4 March 1938. A skull of an adult female from Prapat Agoeng, West Bali was also received by the museum on 4 March 1938. (Mazák et al. 1978)

The Museum Zoologicum Bogoriense in Bogor, Indonesia, has a skin and skull of an adult female shot near the kampung of Sumber Kima, West Bali on 27 September 1937. (Mazák et al. 1978)


Sumatran TigerThe Bali tiger was the first subspecies of the tiger to become extinct. Unfortunately, since then, further two subspecies (the Caspian Tiger and the Javan Tiger) have become extinct. The South China tiger Panthera tigris amoyensis (Hilzheimer, 1905) is listed as Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct in the Wild) by the IUCN (IUCN 2010). Since the early 1970's when an animal was caught and brought into captivity, no biologist or official has seen a wild South China Tiger (Tilson et al. 1997). In 2005 the captive population consisted of 57 individuals, but according Luo et al. (2008) consisted the global population of South China tigers at 72 individuals in 2007 (Nyhus 2008). However, genetic evidence of cross-breeding with other subspecies suggest that few of them seems to be "pure" South China tigers as there is (Guo 2007).

Photo: Sumatran Tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) in the Tierpark Berlin, Berlin, Germany. Photographed by 'Captain Herbert'. This image is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported.

The four (maybe five) remaining tiger subspecies surviving in the wild are the Bengal tiger Panthera tigris tigris (Linnaeus, 1758), the Siberian (Amur) tiger Panthera tigris altaica (Temminck, 1844), the Sumatran tiger Panthera tigris sumatrae Pocock, 1829, and the Indo-Chinese tiger Panthera tigris corbetti Mazak, 1968. In 2004, a new subspecies has been proposed, the Malayan tiger Panthera tigris jacksoni (Luo et al., 2004). However, this supposed new subspecies from Penisular Malaysia has never been described properly and its taxonomic validity is still being discussed (Sunquist & Sunquist 2009). Mazak and Groves (2006) found no clear morphological differences between tigers from Peninsular Malaysia and those elsewhere in Indochina, and argue for inclusion in Panthera tigris corbetti.


Bali Tiger - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Gou, J. (2007). Year of the tiger. Nature 449: 16–18.

IUCN (2010). IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.2. <>. Downloaded on 28 August 2010.

Jackson, P. & Nowell, K. (2008). Panthera tigris ssp. balica. In: IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.2. <>. Downloaded on 28 August 2010.

Kawanishi, K. & Lynam, T. (2008). Panthera tigris ssp. jacksoni. In: IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.2. <>. Downloaded on 27 August 2010.

Luo S., Kim J., Johnson W.E., Walt Jvd, Martenson J, et al. (2004) Phylogeography and Genetic Ancestry of Tigers (Panthera tigris). PLoS Biol 2(12): e442.

Mazák J.H., C.P. Groves. (2006). A taxonomic revision of the tigers (Panthera tigris) of Southeast Asia. Mammalian biology 71, 5:268–287. Deutsche Gesellschaft für Säugetierkunde. 

Mazák J.H., C.P. Groves, J.H. van Bree. (1978). On a skin and skull of the Bali Tiger, and a list of preserved specimens of Panthera tigris balica (Schwarz, 1912). Zeitschrift für Säugetierkunde 43:108-113.

Nyhus, P. (2008). Panthera tigris ssp. amoyensis. In: IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.2. <>. Downloaded on 28 August 2010.

Sunquist, M.E. & Sunquist, F.C. (2009). Family Felidae (Cats). Pp. 54-169 in: Wilson, D.E. & Mittermeier, R.A. eds. (2009). Handbook of the Mammals of the World. Vol. 1. Carnivores. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

Tilson, R. et al. 1997. The decline and impending extinction of the South China tiger. Oryx 31:243.

Citation: Maas, P.H.J. (2011). Bali Tiger - Panthera tigris balica. In: TSEW ( ). The Sixth Extinction Website. <>. Downloaded on .
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Updated: 6 November 2011


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