Bali with Kids - Guidebook


Encounter with Animals

The Last Bali Tiger...

The last Bali Tiger recorded was shot in September 1937 in West Bali and it was a female. Some people think that some other tigers survived in the wild until the 1950s and some people have reported seeing tigers in the 1960s, the 1970s and even recently but that has never been proved. 

Today we believe that this species became extinct because of hunting and habitat loss. If man had not been around, the Bali Tiger would probably still be roaming around Balinese forests. 

The Bali Tiger is called Panthera tigris balica by scientists, Harimau Bali in Indonesian and Samong in Balinese language. It was a subspecies only found on the island of Bali. In Indonesia, there were three subspecies: the Bali tiger, the Javan tiger also extinct and the critically endangered Sumatran tiger. The Bali tiger was the smallest of the three and his habitat was limited to the forested areas of Bali. For this reason it is believed that there never was a large population of Bali tigers. 

Historians say that very few Balinese people used to hunt tigers before the Europeans arrived to Bali. On the one hand, tigers were considered as evil and on the other, they featured in the Balinese folklore and magic. Babies could be given at birth a necklace with a tiger's tooth or a piece of tiger bone for protection (Miguel Covarrubias, "Island Of The Gods", 1937). The Barong of the popular Balinese dance come in four different forms and one of them is the tiger barong (Barong Macan).

The male Bali tigers weighed around 100 kg and measured between 2 to 2.20m from head to tail. It lived about 10 years in the wild. Their fur was short and orange with dark stripes and they had a strange dark band on the top of its head. 

Today there are no Bali tigers in the wild or in zoos and it is impossible to revive an extinct species of animals. It is scary to think that the Bali tigers had no other predators except for humans and that has led to its extinction. This is another example of the disastrous effect men can have on the planet's diversity.