Tiger - mightiest of
the big cats
Perfectly designed and adapted predators, Tigers possess stunning beauty, grace, poise and awesome power. Humans admire them as much as they fear them. Their presence in the wild, revealed by a throaty roar or a track on a dusty trail, electrifies the forest and sends shivers down the spines of all who share its space. They are the largest of all cats and one of the most threatened. Approximately only about 4,000 remain in the wild. Most are sequestered across the country in fragmented forests. They are found in many types of habitats, from the evergreen and monsoon forests to the mixed coniferous deciduous woodlands and the mangrove swamps of the Sundarbans, shared by India and Bangladesh. As top predators, they keep populations of wild ungulates in check, thereby maintaining the balance between prey herbivores and the vegetation upon which they feed. A whole myriad of other life-forms are essential to support a healthy tiger population.
Their stripes are like a finger print and are different on every cat. The stripes are also different on each side the their bodies. As a matter of fact, no 2 have the identical markings. The males exhibit a ruff (longer hairs around the neck), which is very noticable in the Sumatran tiger. They are solitary hunters and prey mainly on deer and wild pig. Some siblings may hunt together during adolescence for a short time.
They normally makes their dens in dense vegetation, caves, or tree hollows. They are mostly nocturnal, except for the Siberian subspecies being active during the day in the winter time. The tiger uses it sense of sight and hearing more than smell when hunting as it stalks its prey. They kill by a bite to the neck by attacking from the side or rear of its prey once it is in close enough range. They usually remain in the same range and are not replaced, until death. They are not known to patrol their range but do spray to mark territories as they wander and hunt.
They weigh about 400-700 pounds and their length is about 8-10 feet excluding their tail that is 25-28 inches long. The upper part of the animal ranges from reddish orange to ochre, and the under parts are off white to white. The body has a series of black striations of black to dark grey color.
Across its range, this magnificent animal is being persecuted. It is being poisoned, trapped, snared, shot, and captured. Today, the majority of these animals are sought to meet the demands of a continuing illegal wildlife trade in body parts for medicinal purposes.
They are being wiped out by poor local residents, as well as hunters and traders (poachers) who are dependent on the subsistence that comes from the forest. But the biggest threat comes from habitat destruction, as well as wiping out the prey on which they depend on. Sadly, large plantations are replacing the their habitat in several regions.
Three tiger subspecies, Bali, Caspian, and Javan are already extinct, and a fourth, the South China tiger is on its way. All within the last century.