THE BENGAL TIGER




There are six subspecies 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 100 sq 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.

Tiger behaviour

A Bengal tiger is a solitary and nocturnal creature. In order to deter intruders, all Bengal tigers will mark their territory with strong smelling urine and secretions which serve as a warning to other, nearby tigers. Shredding the bark of trees is another way tigers mark their territory.

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.

Bengal tiger breeding

Bengal tigers usually breed in the spring. The female is visited in her home range by a male with a neighbouring home range.

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 which she will supplement 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 main threats to the survival of the Bengal tiger subspecies. Poachers kill tigers not only for their fur, but also for ingredients 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 endow them with the tigers strength.

For related articles click onto the following links:
THE BENGAL TIGER
THE SABER-TOOTHED TIGER
THE TASMANIAN TIGER
TIGERS
TIGER FACTS
WHAT ARE THE NINE SUBSPECIES OF TIGER?
WHAT DO TIGERS EAT?
WHAT IS THE WORLD'S LARGEST SPECIES OF TIGER?
WHY DID THE SABER-TOOTHED TIGER BECOME EXTINCT?

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