The Tiger DNA

The Tiger DNA


Out of all the big cats, the tiger is the largest member of the family. They are recognizable by their thick vertical stripes on the reddish-orange fur which has a lighter underside. There were once nine subspecies of tigers recorded: Siberian, Bengal, Indochinese, Sumatran, South Chinese, Malayan, Caspian, Javan, and Bali. While the rest are endangered, the last three are extinct and one of the subspecies has perished in the wild. 

What do tigers eat

Tigers mainly eat Sambar Deer, Spotted Deer, and other antelopes. Injured or old tigers also attack and consume humans and domestic cattle. 

The population of Tigers in India

During the early 1900s, approximately 100,000 tigers were found throughout their range. Today, around 3,000-4,500 tigers exist in the wilderness. Below is an estimate of the tiger population by subspecies.

The population of Tiger Subspecies

Bengal tiger: Around 2,000
Indochinese tiger: 750-1,300
Siberian tiger: Around 450
Sumatran tiger: 400-500
Malayan tiger: 600-800
South Chinese tiger: Extinct in the wild
Caspian tiger: Extinct
Javan tiger: Extinct
Bali tiger: Extinct

Tigers and Their Geographic Range

Historically, tigers existed in Turkey, South, and Southeast Asia as well as the far eastern shores of the continent. Currently, they are only found in China, South and Southeast Asia, and the Russian Far East.

tigers in bandhavgarh national park

tigers in bandhavgarh national park

When do tigers reproduce

The mating season of the tiger varies according to climate. In a tropical climate, mating takes place mostly from November to April while in temperate regions it is during the winter months. The gestation period lasts for about 103 days. Litter size is around 3-4 cubs.

The cubs weigh from 680 to 1,400 g (1.50 to 3.09 lb) each at birth and are born helpless and blind. The females rear them alone as the father generally takes no part in rearing them. Mothers are protective and guard their young ones against wandering male tigers who may kill the cubs to make the female receptive to mating. Around 18 months of age, the cubs become independent. After living with their mother for roughly 2 ½ years, they decide to leave in search of their own territory. 

Social Structure of Tigers

  • Tigers can survive in a variety of habitats that ranges from tropical and evergreen forests, woodlands, mangrove swamps to rocky areas and savannahs. They usually require sufficient cover, proximity to water, and an abundance of prey
  • Tigers are usually solitary by nature except during mating season and when females give birth to young ones. Their social system is connected through scent marks, vocalizations, and other visual connections.
  • Tigers are mostly nocturnal which means they hunt and kill at night. They are also known to be ambush predators and rely on camouflaging which their stripes provide.
  • Tigers use their body weight to knock down the prey and bite its neck to kill it.
  • They are excellent swimmers and can kill prey while swimming.
  • Tigers are known to be fiercely territorial and mark their home ranges. The capacity of tiger territories varies greatly by season, locality, and prey density (the amount of prey in a given area). In regions that have high prey densities, tiger territories tend to be smaller in size. It is due to the ample prey that can be found in smaller vicinity. For male tigers in Ranthambhore India, there are high prey concentrations and as a result, territories range from 5 to 150 km2 (2 to 60 mi2) in size. On the other hand, in Siberia, the prey concentrations are comparatively lower. As a result, territories of male tigers range from 800 to 1200 km2 (320 to 480 mi2) in size. Seasonality in terms of food availability, prey migrations, and weather may also affect prey populations and have an impact on the size of tiger territories.
Tiger of Ranthambhore National Park

Tiger of Ranthambhore National Park

Social Behaviour and Territories of Tigers

  • Males have larger territories than females. The area is sufficient to have food, water, and shelter resources, but is larger to overlap several female territories. Therefore, females are the most desired resource for male tigers.
  • Aggression among adult males can be influenced by factors such as the density of tigers. It can also occur when there is a social disruption in which male tigers compete to take control of a territory. Where there are high tiger densities in a given area, the intensity of aggression increases. It leads to more competition for resources and mating opportunities. If the resident male has died, the strongest male takes over the territory. Such instances of social disruption may also cause aggression among females.
  • Compared to male tigers, a tigresses’ territory is smaller but focuses mainly on vital resources required for rearing younger ones.
  • Tigresses usually occupy territories adjacent to mother tigers or even take over parts of other tigresses’ territory.

What is a Tiger’s Daily Activity Cycle

Tigers remain active at night and less mobile during the mid-day heat. This pattern, however, may vary by prey activity and season. An important part of the tiger’s daily routine is grooming. To groom themselves, they use their raspy tongue to clean dirt and remove loose hair from their fur. This process keeps the tiger’s coat in good condition as their tongues contain oils secreted from their glands.

Tigress of Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve

Tigress of Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve

Individual behaviour

Unlike other members of the cat family, tigers readily enter the water to cool themselves and in search of prey. They are regarded as powerful swimmers. Tigers maintain their control over territories by actively and continuously patrolling them.

Interaction of Tigers with Other Species

Tigers are known to coexist with other predators like the Asiatic wild dogs, leopards, brown bears, and wolves throughout most of their range. Usually, there is little interaction between species that is documented.

List of tiger reserves in India

North India

Corbett National Park

Ranthambhore National Park

Sariska Tiger Reserve

Central India

Pench Tiger Reserve

Bandhavgarh National Park

Kanha National Park

Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve

East & North India

Sundarbans Tiger Reserve

Kaziranga National Park

South India

Bandipur National Park

Kabini Nagarhole Tiger Reserve


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