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.
All 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.