The Bengal Tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) is a tiger subspecies native to the Bengal region of South Asia, and is the national animal of India and Bangladesh. It is the most numerous tiger subspecies.
Its populations have been estimated at 1,706–1,909 in India, 440 in Bangladesh, 163–253 in Nepal and 67–81 in Bhutan. Since 2010, it has been classified as anendangered species by the IUCN. The total population is estimated at fewer than 2,500 individuals with a decreasing trend, and none of the Tiger Conservation Landscapes within the Bengal tiger's range is large enough to support an effective population size of 250 adult individuals.
The Bengal tiger has reddish-gold fur with black stripes that act as camouflage in the wild. The throat, belly, and insides of the legs are white. The males grow 9-10 ft in length from the head to the tip of the tail. The females grow to a length less than 8 ft. The males weigh 400-575 pounds and the females weigh 220-375 pounds. Their shoulder height is 36 in. Unlike most cats, tigers can only purr while breathing out, whereas domestic cats can purr breathing both in and out. Their call is a roar, growl, or purr. They live up to 15 years.
The basic social unit of the tiger is the elemental one of mother and offspring. Adult animals congregate only on an ad hoc and transitory basis when special conditions permit, such as plentiful supply of food. Otherwise they lead solitary lives, hunting individually for the dispersed forest and tall grassland animals, upon which they prey. They establish and maintain home ranges. Resident adults of either sex tend to confine their movements to a definite area of habitat within which they satisfy their needs, and in the case of tigresses, those of their growing cubs. Besides providing the requirements of an adequate food supply, sufficient water and shelter, and a modicum of peace and seclusion, this location must make it possible for the resident to maintain contact with other tigers, especially those of the opposite sex. Those sharing the same ground are well aware of each other’s movements and activities.
Tigers eat a variety of prey ranging in size from termites to elephant calves. However, an integral component of their diet are large-bodied prey weighing about 20 kg (45 lb) or larger such as moose, deer species, pigs, cows, horses, buffalos and goats.
Occasionally they may consume tapirs, elephant andrhinoceros calves, bear species, leopards and Asiatic wild dogs. Tigers mainly rely on their sense of sight and hearingrather than on smell when hunting prey. They cautiously stalk their prey from the rear in attemptto get as close as possible to their unsuspecting prey. Then they attempt to take down their prey with a powerful bite to the neck and/ or throat.Tigers may consume up to 40 kg (88 pounds) of meat at one time. It is estimated that every tiger consumesabout 50 deer-sized animals each year, about one per week.
Over the past century tiger numbers have fallen dramatically, with a decreasing population trend. None of the Tiger Conservation Landscapes within the Bengal tiger range is large enough to support an effective population size of 250 individuals. Habitat losses and the extremely large-scale incidences of poaching are serious threats to the species' survival.
The most significant immediate threat to the existence of wild tiger populations is the illegal trade in poached skins and body parts between India, Nepal and China. The governments of these countries have failed to implement adequate enforcement response, and wildlife crime remained a low priority in terms of political commitment and investment for years. There are well-organised gangs of professional poachers, who move from place to place and set up camp in vulnerable areas. Skins are rough-cured in the field and handed over to dealers, who send them for further treatment to Indian tanning centres. Buyers choose the skins from dealers or tanneries and smuggle them through a complex interlinking network to markets outside India, mainly in China. Other factors contributing to their loss are urbanization and revenge killing. Farmers blame tigers for killing cattle and shoot them. Their skins and body parts may however become a part of the illegal trade.
The Indian subcontinent has served as a stage for intense human and tiger confrontations. The region affording habitat where tigers have achieved their highest densities is also one which has housed one of the most concentrated and rapidly expanding human populations. At the beginning of the 19th century tigers were so numerous it seemed to be a question as to whether man or tiger would survive. It became the official policy to encourage the killing of tigers as rapidly as possible, rewards being paid for their destruction in many localities. The United Provinces supported large numbers of tigers in the submontane Terai region, where man-eating had been uncommon. In the latter half of the 19th century, marauding tigers began to take a toll of human life. These animals were pushed into marginal habitat, where tigers had formerly not been known, or where they existed only in very low density, by an expanding population of more vigorous animals that occupied the prime habitat in the lowlands, where there was high prey density and good habitat for reproduction. The dispersers had no where else to go, since the prime habitat was bordered in the south by cultivation. They are thought to hav
e followed back the herds of domestic livestock that wintered in the plains when they returned to the hills in the spring, and then being left without prey when the herds dispersed back to their respective villages. These tigers were the old, the young and the disabled. All suffered from some disability, mainly caused either by gunshot wounds or porcupine quills.
An area of special interest lies in the Terai Arc Landscape in the Himalayan foothills of northern India and southern Nepal, where 11 protected areas comprising dry forest foothills and tall-grass savannas harbor tigers in a 49,000 square kilometres (19,000 sq mi) landscape. The goals are to manage tigers as a singlemetapopulation, the dispersal of which between core refuges can help maintain genetic, demographic, and ecological integrity, and to ensure that species and habitat conservation becomes mainstreamed into the rural development agenda. In Nepal a community-based tourism model has been developed with a strong emphasis on sharing benefits with local people and on the regeneration of degraded forests. The approach has been successful in reducing poaching, restoring habitats, and creating a local constituency for conservation.An area of special interest lies in the Terai Arc Landscape in the Himalayan foothills of northern
India and southern Nepal, where 11 protected areas comprising dry forest foothills and tall-grass savannas harbor tigers in a 49,000 square kilometres (19,000 sq mi) landscape. The goals are to manage tigers as a single metapopulation, the dispersal of which between core refuges can help maintain genetic, demographic, and ecological integrity, and to ensure that species and habitat conservation becomes mainstreamed into the rural development agenda. In Nepal a community-based tourism model has been developed with a strong emphasis on sharing benefits with local people and on the regeneration of degraded forests. The approach has been successful in reducing poaching, restoring habitats, and creating a local constituency for conservation.
Trivia and FactsEdit
- The earliest known portrayal of the Royal Bengal Tiger in India comes to us from the Indus Valley Civilization where a 2500 BC seal featuring a tiger was found.
- At the current rate of poaching and habitat loss, it is estimated that tigers in the wild could completely disappear within the next ten years
- Tiger stripes are like fingerprints. No two are the same. The stripes are not only in the tiger’s fur, but are a pigmentation of the skin.
- At full running speed tigers reach up to 60 kilometres per hour.
- Tigers have a white spot on the back of both ears, which looks like eyes. This tricks predators into thinking the tiger is looking at them. This is why they are called ‘eye spots
- A group of tigers is called a ‘streak’.
- The tiger population in India is moving towards extinction faster than we can say Tiger!
- Tigers have two noses! Well, not literally of course. A secondary scent gland called ‘Jacobson’s organ’ is located in the tigers mouth and is used in assisting the animals in identifying other scents.*All tigers have a similar marking on their forehead, which resembles the Chinese symbol Wang, (King).
- The tail gives the tiger extra balance when running and is also used to communicate to other tigers.
- The tendons in a tiger’s leg are so strong that it has been known to remain standing after it has been shot dead.
- A type of trap tiger poachers use is a trap where there is a string tied between two trees. When the tiger steps on this string, there is gunfire and the tiger dies. The trap works very well in terms of poaching.
- Some Bengal Tigers are white instead of orange. This is extremely rare.