Man has a way of destroying species so completely that the prospect for future genetic diversity is over. This is the case with the tiger and its subspecies. Already there are three extinct subspecies blood on man’s hands. This includes the smallest subspecies of all, the Bali Tigers.
As the name suggest the Bali Tiger were found on the island of Bali, this is one of three subspecies that were once found in Indonesia (Sumatran, Javan and Bali the latter two extinct). Now only the Sumatran Tiger remains. The Bali Tiger was known for being the smallest of all documented tiger subspecies. It is approximately half the size of the more well known Amur (Siberian) Tiger and is comparable in size to that of a Leopard. The Bali Tiger’s classification has been disputed recently and with more genetic studies could eventually be put to rest. For the moment the theory that is accepted is that the Bali Tiger is a subspecies of the tiger species Panthera tigris and is officially known as Panthera tigris balica, but recent studies have concluded that the Javan Tiger (also extinct) was a separate species (not subspecies) also the study concluded that at least in the family tree the Bali Tiger is a subspecies of the Javan Tiger, known as Panthera sondaica balica. This is currently up to debate of the scientific community.
Of all the subspecies of tigers the Bali was the most susceptible to extinction. In fact, this was the very first subspecies to go extinct due to the very small land area of the island of Bali. The Bali subspecies was thought to have diverged from the Javan subspecies when either the ancestors of the Bali Tigers swam the 2.4 km from Java to Bali or a population of the tigers was trapped on the island of Bali by rising sea levels shortly after the ice age.
The extinction of the Bali Tiger was caused primarily by human encroachment, as well as by culling efforts by the human population. The Tiger traditionally held a place of honor in the Balinese household but was also seen as destructive animal that was soon overwhelmed by hunts. During the Victorian era the tradition of aristocracy hunting wild and dangerous animals helped to lead the Bali Tiger down the road of extinction. The Bali being smaller and having a darker coloring than most other tigers proved to be a challenge to hunt as well as its rarity. The last proven photo of a Bali Tiger or in fact the last known sighting was an adult tigress that was shot in 1937. There have been subsequent sightings that could have occurred but the validity of such sightings has been in doubt. Sightings still continue, with the most credible happening in 1972, but it is with much doubt that this subspecies still exists in the wold today. Various conservation acts one in 1970 as well as a another in 1972 have since abolished tiger hunting but appear to have been too late.
Genetic resurrection could occur but genetic examples as well as material is very hard to find. There are only about eight skulls in various museum collections that are attributed to Bali Tigers as well as only about five preserved skins. Some examples were shot by the big game hunters of old and used as floor rugs, which has resulted in deterioration. Genetically speaking the species could be resurrected again but much work must be done as well as more advanced techniques perfected for this to be possible.
Species Info-Bali Tiger
The Extinction Website
The Bali Tiger