Adult Tigers are l.8-2.8 metres long and weigh up to 272kg. Tigers are the largest living cats. The black stripes on the tawny coat provide effective camouflage in the tiger’s forest habitat. Background colour ranges from pale in Siberia to deep fawn in Bengal. White Tigers are not a separate species or sub-species, but originated from a wild caught white Indian Tiger.
Tigers are the biggest cats in the world.
They live in wet, humid and hot jungles as well as icy cold forests. There are five different kinds or subspecies of tiger which are still alive today. These tigers are called Siberian, Indochinese, South China, Bengal, and Sumatran. Their Latin name is Panthera tigris.
Tigers are an endangered species; only about 4,870 to 7,300 tigers are left in the wild. Three tiger subspecies, which are now extinct are: the Bali, Javan, and Caspian tigers.
They have become so over the last 70 years.
People admire the tiger for its strength and beauty, but they fear it because they are known to kill human beings, yet almost all-wild tigers avoid people.
Probably only 3 or 4 out of every 1000 tigers eat people and most of these are sick or wounded animals, that can no longer hunt large prey. Wild tigers are found mostly in India. Until the 1800’s many lived throughout most of the southern half of the continent. Tigers still live in some of these areas, but only a few are left. People have greatly reduced their number by hunting them and by clearing the forest in which they lived. Today wild life experts consider the tiger an endangered species.
Tigers can live in almost any climate. They need only shade, water and prey. They are found in the hot rain forest of Malaya, the dark thorny woods of India, and the cold, snowy, spruce forest of Manchuria. They also live in oak woods, tall grassland, swamps, and marshes. Tiger prefers to be in shadows and seldom go into open country as Lions do.
Tigers are generally solitary, territorial animals, with the range of one male overlapping that of several females. Females in estrus spray pheromone-rich urine on trees and others natural “signposts”, alerting nearby males to their reproductive status. Through loud moaning calls, the prospective mates find each other. Females give birth on average to two to three cubs (only one or two survive to maturity), and over the next several years teach them the hunting skills they will need to survive. At two to three years of age, the cubs establish their own territories. Daughters tend to settle near their mother, sons disperse greater distances.
TYPES OF TIGERS
There are five tiger subspecies including the Indian or Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) – it is a powerful animal with very distinct markings. they .breed at any time of the year.
Siberian or Amur tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) – It is the largest type of all tigers, with an average length of 2.8 meters. It is some what pale in colour having fever stripes and a longer and thicker coat in winter. They have their cubs during the spring.
Sumatran tiger(Panthera tigris sumatrae)
South China tiger (Panthera tigris amoyensis)
Indochinese tiger (Panthera tigris corbetti)
. There are 3 extinct subspecies, the
· Bali tiger (Panthera tigris balica)
· Javan tiger (Panthera tigris sondaicus)
· Caspian tiger (Panthera tigris virgat)
White Tigers. All the white tigers we know of are a color variation of Bengal tigers. White tigers are only born to parents that both carry the recessive gene for white coloring. Wild white tigers are very rare, and today they can only be seen in zoos. The white tigers are neither albinos (in which case they would have pink eyes), nor a separate species; they have chocolate stripes and blue eyes, although several variations in eye and stripe color are seen. The first mutant ‘white’ cub is believed to be the one trapped by the Maharaja of Rewa, who found it orphaned in the jungle in 1951. Named Mohan, the cub was later . mated to a normal-colored captive tigress who produced three litters with normal coloring. A few years later, Mohan mated with one of the offspring, producing the first litter of white cubs-these were to be the ancestors of others now in many zoos the world over
Tigers used to range over much of Asia. There were eight separate sub-species. At the beginning of the l9th Century there were about 100,000 tigers in the world. Today the outlook for the Tiger is very bleak. Although no thorough census has been conducted, it is estimated the world population of tigers is less than 8,000.
Number in the Wild*
Number listed in Captivity**
Caspain Sea region of the former USSR, Iran and Afganistan
Extinct, last one shot in 1959
Indian or Bengal Tiger
India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan.
3000 – 5300
181 in 31 collections
Indo-Chinese or Corbett’s Tiger
Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanamar, Malaysia
800 – 1400
17 in 4 collections
Siberia in Russia, north east China and maybe North Korea.
Less than 250
652 in 208 collections
South Chinese or Amoy Tiger
Extinct in the wild
47 in 20 Chinese collections
Sumatra in Indonesia
400 – 500
195 in 64 collections
Java in Indonesia
Extinct, last seen in 1971
Bali in Indonesia
Extinct, last one shot in 1937
*From BBC Wildlife Magazine, January 1994. ** From Animals Magazine UR, Summer 1993.
Kingdom — Animalia
Subkingdom — Metazoa
Phylum — Chordata
Sub phylum — Vertebrata
Class — Mammalia
Sub class — Theria
Infraclass — Eutheria
Order — Carnivore
Suborder — Fissipedia
Infraorder — Eutheria
Superfamily — Feloridea
Family — Felidae
Genus — Panthera
Species — tigris
Its habits and inclination limit tiger in its choice of a habitat by its physical make up. Climate was no obstruction to its migration provided it could find shelter from the heat. Forest gives the shelter to the tiger and where there is forest there is water to quench its insistent thirst. Forest also makes assemblage of large herbivorous animals which the tiger must have for food, and within forest it finds ample cover for its secretive methods of hunting and its seclusive habit of life. Tigers live in a great range of habitats, essentially requiring sufficient prey populations, adequate cover to stalk or ambush, and access to water. Tigers may live in northern latitudes in snowy mountain hardwood forests, monsoon or seasonally deciduous forests, or in tropical rainforests.
Tigers in general hunt and eat wild deer, cattle and pigs. There are reports of tigers attacking bears, wolves and even elephants and rhinos. They occasionally kill domestic livestock and, in rare instances, become man-eaters.
TIGER CONSERVATION STATUS
The tiger is listed as an endangered species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the IUCN Red Book and is an Appendix I species under CITES. From an estimated 100,000 tigers a century ago, fewer than 5,000 remain in the wild. About 3,000-4,000 Bengal tigers, 400-500 Siberian tigers, 400-500 Sumatran tigers and 1,000-1,800 Indochinese tigers remain in the wild.
Fewer than 20 wild South China tigers are thought to survive.
Tigers are protected by law in every country of their range, except Myanmar, however the illegal traffic in their parts continues. In 1973 Project Tiger was launched in India to create reserves to protect the Tiger. At first it appeared a success but 20 years later and at a cost of $40 million from the Indian Govemment and $1 million from WWF, the project seems to be failing. Traffic (a branch of WWF) has started new initiatives in the past two years to help stop the illegal trade.
WWF is also helping to establish protected areas in China, Nepal, Bhutan, Thailand and Vietnam. Two further charities have also begun work to help: Global Tiger Patrol and the Tiger Trust, both based in the UK. Captive breeding of all five surviving sub-species of tigers is also vital. All animals are registered world-wide on computer and optimum breeding potential is aimed for.