Do Tigers Live in South America? Let’s Find Out

Tigers are always fascinating with their dark long vertical stripes on the orange fur with a whitish underside layer. But it’s a matter of great concern that the quantity of this endangered animal is reducing at an alarming rate.

People are surprised to know that no tigers live in South America. Even though it has the largest rainforest, like Amazon, it still has no tigers.

To better understand this, let’s jump into this article.

Do tigers live in South America

Did tigers ever live in South America?

You’ll only find tigers in zoos in South America for recreational and commercial purposes. But, no tigers are living in South America as a natural habitat.

Because of the weather and other climatic reasons, tiger breeds didn’t evolve there to live.

However, you can find numerous wild cats in South America.

Giant cat breeds like Jaguar and Puma are inhabitants of Brazil. Jaguar is known as ‘el Tigre,’ and Puma is known as ‘Mountain Lion.’ These wild cats live mostly in swampy, open savannas and tropical and equatorial forests in South America. However, nowadays, you’ll hardly find any tiger breeds living in the Amazon.

Instead, in 2005, a pair of Chinese Tigers were imported to South America with the purpose of mating. This program was successful, but the only time is exporting a pair of tiger breeds on South American land.

However, some other big cat breeds are found in South America. But in terms of tigers, they are only found in Zoos with authorized supervision. As tigers are at risk of extinction, governments are trying their best to save the remaining breeds.

Why do tigers not live in South America?

From a scientific point of view, many concepts stand as the reasons behind not finding tigers in South America. For example, geographical boundaries, glacial fluctuations of the Pleistocene, the natural migration of tiger subspecies, concurrent climatic change, the hypothesis of overkilling tigers, etc.

Considering these threats, tigers mostly migrated between South Asian continents over time.
However, One of the prime reasons is ecosystem variations between South America and Asia.

South America’s climatic condition is the crucial reason behind tigers’ migration over time from South America to Asia. There might be numerous ancestors of wild cats, but modern tiger breeds have never lived in the continent of South America.

Most researchers say that the climate of Asia is more suitable than South America for tiger adaptation.

What wild cats live in South America?

Even though there are no tiger subspecies in South America, a variety of animals there fall under the big cats or wild cats category. They have a fair share of diverse wild cat collections that will surprise you. These big cats play a key role in South America’s ecosystem and biodiversity.

However, there are more than ten species of wild cats.

These are

  1. Andean Mountain Cat
  2. Cougar
  3. Jaguarundi
  4. Geoffroy’s Cat
  5. Kodkod, Jaguar
  6. Margay
  7. Pampas Cat
  8. Colocolo, Guiña
  9. Ocelot
  10. Northern Oncilla & Southern Oncilla
  11. Puma, etc.


Tigers do not tend to prefer the South American climate for living. The main reason is the climatic differences and ecosystem.

Even though tigers are known for their adaptive capabilities to nature, they prefer tropical rainforests, evergreen forests, mangrove swamps, savannahs, rocky areas, and grassland.

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Team Animalia Facts

"Team Animal Facts" is an expert group of wildlife enthusiasts who are impassioned for mysteries of animal life and dedicated to exploring them.

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