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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.

Zoological name: Panthera tigris tigris

Range: The Royal Bengal Tiger is found in the wild across India in protected forests, and in Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar.

Estimated population: 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.

Physical characteristics: 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: 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.

Habitat: 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.

Diet: 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.

Behavior: 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.

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