There are six sub-species of tiger in the world today, each living in different habitats around the world. Bengal tigers are the most numerous and their populations are concentrated in the mangrove forests of Eastern India and Bangladesh where the River Ganges pours out into the Bay of Bengal. They are also found in other areas of India as well as some parts of Nepal and Burma.
Tigers need a large home range in which to hunt. Within this they mark and defend territories which can be up to 100sq km for a male tiger. As Bengal tigers are solitary animals and do not like to share their hunting grounds, even a small population requires a very large area in which to live and hunt successfully.
Usually, a tiger will have several dens in its home range and uses whichever den is most convenient at the time.
Tigers usually cover their faeces with earth. They will also drag the remains of a kill to a thicket and loosely bury it with leaves, then return to it later.
Despite their size, Bengal tigers can climb trees effectively, however, they are not as agile as the smaller leopard, which hides its kills from other predators in the trees. Bengal tigers are also strong and frequent swimmers, often ambushing drinking or swimming prey or chasing prey that has retreated into water. Bengal tigers also like to play and often engage in play-fighting.
How Bengal tigers hunt their prey
A tiger will attack its prey from the side or the rear. Like other tiger sub-species, the Bengal tiger will kill small prey with a bite to the back of the neck, and larger prey by a suffocating bite to the throat.
Game is the tigers favourite food. They will hunt wild ox and buffalo. An adult male ox can weigh 900kg which is twice the weight of an average tiger. Although it is clearly capable of taking down such a beast, more often than not the tiger will attack young or old animals as they will put up less of a resistance.
In certain areas, the tigers prey is chital deer, wild boar, monkeys and lizards. Tigers will sometimes even attack porcupines. However, this can be extremely dangerous. Why? Because if any of the sharp quills become lodged in the face, eyes or paws they can cause infections which in extreme cases can result in death!
Bengal tiger breeding
During this time the female is only fertile for three to seven days. After mating, the male returns back to his home range subsequently playing no further part in rearing the cubs.
About 15 weeks later, the tigress will give birth to between two and four cubs. The cubs are born blind and will remain so for the first 10 days. The mother will suckel them for eight weeks, after whch she will suppliment their diet with small prey to eat as well.
After six months, the mother will leave them alone in the den for days at a time while she is hunting. When they are bigger, the tigress will take them hunting with her. At 11 months old, the young tigers can hunt alone and at 16 months they are strong enough to tackle large prey
Bengal tiger conservation
Bengal tigers are now listed as an 'endangered species'. The current population of wild Bengal tigers in the Indian subcontinent is now estimated to be around 1300 - 1500. which is less than half of the previous estimation of 3000 - 4500 tigers.
Habitat loss and poaching are the maint threats to the survival of the Bengal tiger sub-species. Poachers kill tigers not only for their fur, but also for ingredienta to make various traditional East Asian medicines. Other factors contributing to their loss are the urbanization of their habitat and revenge killing. Revenge killing occurs as locals such as farmers who own livestock hunt down the tigers to prevent them from preying on their cattle. Poachers also kill tigers for their bones and teeth to make medicines that are alleged to endown them with the tigers strength.
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Based on articles by http://www.animalcorner.co.uk/rainforests/bengaltiger_about.html and
Photos care of http://www.animalcorner.co.uk/rainforests/bengaltiger_about.html and http://www.news.com.au/travel/news/tigers-attack-tourist-bus-in-china-reports/story-e6frfq80-1226265537567 and http://www.nownews.com/2011/10/01/91-2746146.htm