Caspian tigers were once scattered across a vast swath of central Asia, from Turkey to China, per Popular Science. They lived in wetlands along rivers and roamed through reed thickets, shrubs, and forests, hunting deer and wild boar. According to the Independent, they were the largest subspecies of tiger.
In the first half of the twentieth century, Caspian tigers were poached and poisoned by humans, and the animals they ate were also hunted, making food scarce. The Soviet Union conducted agricultural projects to reclaim land, draining the tigers’ wetland habitats to grow crops like cotton. This human interference is believed to have wiped out the Caspian tiger subspecies by the 1950s.
In 2017, Popular Science reported that scientists at the International Union for Conservation of Nature and the World Wildlife Fund were considering reintroducing tigers to Kazakhstan — namely, the Siberian tiger, an endangered subspecies that is closely related to the Caspian. The scientists believe Siberian tigers would be well-suited to the region due to the DNA they share with Caspian tigers, and that introducing them to the area could start a reserve population that may help save the subspecies from rapid extinction.