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Royal Bengal Tiger |
Royal Bengal Tiger The
Royal Bengal tiger, the national animal of India is an incredible sight. With
its orange hide marked with dark stripes, its white underbelly, long tail, huge
paws and fearsome teeth, the Royal Bengal Tiger of India is justifiably called
the "King of the Jungle." It is the largest of the Big Cats. There are
several subspecies of Tiger of which the Siberian Tiger is the largest.
Panthera tigris tigris
The Royal Bengal Tiger is found in the wild
across India in protected forests, and in Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar.
It is estimated
that there are around 3,250 - 4,700 Royal Bengal Tigers in the wild with over
330 in captivity, including zoos and animal parks.
Royal Bengal Tigers can have an incredible size ranging
in length from under 6 feet to over 9 feet, while the length of its tail can be
over 3 feet. Adult male tigers are larger than female tigers. The color of the
Royal Bengal Tigers pelt can range from orange to tan with white beneath. The
pattern of stripes on a tiger's skin is unique to each tiger. The patterns are
used to identify and enumerate tigers based on tiger sightings in wildlife national
parks in India. Tigers can shed their short thick fur in summer and it grows in
thickness in winter. The Siberian tiger, the largest of the tigers, lives in a
snow covered landscape, protected by its thick fur. Tigers have large, padded
paws, with retractable claws. The paw print or pugmark of each tiger is also unique
and is therefore used for identification and tracking by wildlife officials. Tigers
have a large head, big ears and thick whiskers. The strong jaw of the tiger is
used to bite the throat or neck of the tiger's prey. Tigers have incredible vision,
their sight is enhanced by a reflecting layer behind the retina called the tapetum,
whereby light is reflected back onto the retina, enabling tigers to see six times
better than humans.
white tigers in captivity in the world today are the descendants of one white
tiger, Mohan caught by the Maharaja of Rewa in 1951. A White Tiger is the same
as a Royal Bengal Tiger except for a genetic mutation that causes the change in
the color of their fur and eyes. White tigers have blue eyes and brownish stripes.
Tigers prefer thick grass, dense
jungle and undergrowth in which they can hide and wait for their prey. The stripes
on the hide of the tiger act as an incredible camouflage and help the tiger conceal
itself in tall grass and vegetation. In the dry jungles of wildlife parks in Ranthambore
and Sariska in Rajasthan India, tigers are often seen in the ruins of monuments
and temples in the park. Tigers unlike other cats, like water and in the hot summer
are often seen sitting or lying in pools of water to stay cool and are good swimmers.
Royal Bengal Tigers are carnivores
and hunt for prey. Their prey includes deer, wild buffalo, elephants, wild pigs
and cattle in areas of human encroachment. Aged, sick or injured tigers that are
unable to hunt swift-footed prey have been known to turn man-eater.
Royal Bengal Tigers are usually solitary.
Tiger couples have sometimes been seen, however a family group commonly consists
of a mother and her cubs that live with her for around 2 years. Male tigers are
known to fight over territory. A male tigers territory usually overlaps the territory
of more than one tigress. Tigers mark their territory by urinating and spraying
scent from a specialized gland. A tigress retires to a den to bear her litter,
which usually consists of 2-4 cubs. In the wild, tigers live from 8- 15 years.
In zoos, tigers have been recorded as living up to 26 years.
Royal Bengal Tiger is an endangered species. Their numbers were recorded as below
2000 in the 1970's, after which Project Tiger was initiated in India in 1973 in
wildlife national parks and sanctuaries of India. There has been a steady increase
in the population of tigers in India where they are protected in 27 tiger reserves,
wildlife national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. The threat of poaching due to
the demand for tiger bones and body parts in traditional Chinese medicine remains
a pressing issue. The loss of habitat as well as human population pressure on
wildlife reserves in India is another concern.
Tiger Wildlife Sanctuaries
Tourists can see the incredible Royal Bengal
Tiger in the following Wildlife National Parks on India wildlife tours:
Bandipur-Nagarhole (Karnataka), Corbett (Uttaranchal), Kanha (Madhya Pradesh),
Manas (Assam), Melghat(Maharashtra), Palamau (Jharkhand), Ranthambhore (Rajasthan),
Similipal (Orissa), Sunderbans (West Bengal), Periyar (Kerala), Sariska (Rajasthan),
Buxa (West Bengal),Indravati (Chattisgarh), Nagarjunsagar (Andhra Pradesh), Namdapha
(Arunachal Pradesh), Dudhwa-Katerniaghat (Uttar Pradesh), Kalakad-Mundanthurai
(Tamil Nadu), Valmiki (Bihar), Pench (Madhya Pradesh-Maharashtra), Tadoba-Andhari
(Maharashtra), Bandhavgarh (Madhya Pradesh), Dampha (Mizoram), Bhadra (Karnataka),
Pakhui-Nameri (Arunachal Pradesh-Assam), Bori, Satpura, Pachmari (Madhya Pradesh).