The tiger is the largest member of the cat family. They are recognisable by their thick vertical stripes on the reddish orange fur which is lighter underside.There were once nine subspecies of tigers: Bengal, Siberian, Indochinese, South Chinese, Sumatran, Malayan, Caspian, Javan and Bali. Of these, the last three are extinct, one is extinct in the wild, and the rest are endangered.
What do tigers eat
Tigers mainly eat Sambar deer, wild pigs, water buffalo and antelope. Sloth bears, dogs, leopards, crocodiles and pythons as well as monkeys and hares also comprise their prey. Old and injured tigers have been known to attack humans and domestic cattle. Tigers generally do not prey on fully grown adult Asian elephants and Indian rhinoceros but incidents have been reported.
Population of Tigers in India
Population: In the early 1900s, there were around 100,000 tigers throughout their range. Today, an estimated total of around 3,000-4,500 exist in the wild. Below is estimate of tiger population by subspecies.
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 Geographic Range
Historically, tigers were found in Turkey through South and Southeast Asia to the far eastern shores of the continent. Today, they are only found in South and Southeast Asia, China and the Russian Far East.
When do tigers reproduce
The mating season of tiger varies according to climate. In tropical climate, it is mostly from November to April while in temperate regions it is during the winter months. It has the gestation period of 103 days. Litter size is around 3-4 cubs.
Cubs weigh from 680 to 1,400 g (1.50 to 3.09 lb) each at birth, and are born blind and helpless. The females rear them alone, with father generally takes no part in rearing them. Cubs become independent at around 18 months of age. They leave their mothers at about 2 ½ years. Mothers guard their young ones from wandering males that may kill the cubs to make the female receptive to mating.
Social Structure of Tigers
- Tigers can survive in a variety of habitats ranging from tropical forests evergreen forests, woodlands and mangrove swamps to grasslands, savannahs and rocky areas but will 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 visual signals, scent marks and vocalizations
- They are mostly nocturnal and are ambush predators that rely on the camouflage their stripes provide.
- Tigers use their body weight to knock prey to the ground and kills with a bite to the neck.
- They are also very good swimmers and have been known to kill prey while swimming.
- They are usually fiercely territorial and have and mark their large home ranges. The size of tiger territories varies greatly by locality, season and prey density (the amount of prey in a given area). In areas with high prey densities, tiger territories tend to be smaller in size because ample prey may be found in smaller vicinity. For male tigers in Ranthambhore India; the prey concentrations are high and male tigers have territories that range in size from 5 to 150 km2 (2 to 60 mi2). In Siberia the prey concentrations are much lower and male tiger territories range in size from 800 to 1200 km2 (320 to 480 mi2). Seasonality in terms of prey migrations, food availability and weather may also affect prey populations and therefore the size of tiger territories.
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 females’ territories. Therefore, females are the most coveted resource for males.
- Aggression amongst adult male tigers can be influenced by number of factors like density of tigers and whether there is a social disruption in which males are competing to take control of a territory. The intensity of aggression increased when there are high tiger densities for a given area because there is more competition of resources and mating opportunities. If the resident male has dies, the strongest male takes over the territory. These times of social disruption may also cause aggression between females.
- Tigresses’ territories are smaller than that of males but focus on vital resources required for rearing young.
- Tigresses usually occupy territories adjacent to or take over parts of their mother’s territory.
What Comes in Tigers Daily Activity Cycle
Tigers are mainly active at night and less active during the mid-day heat. However, this pattern may vary by season and prey activity. Grooming is an important part of the tiger’s day. They use their rasping tongue to remove loose hairs and dirt from their fur. This process keeps the tiger’s coat in good condition as their tongues contain oils secreted from their glands.
Unlike other members of the cat family, tigers readily enter the water to cool themselves and in search of prey. They are powerful swimmers. Tigers assert and maintain their control over their territories by continuously patrolling them.
Interaction of Tigers with Other Species
Tigers coexist with other predators such as leopards, Asiatic wild dogs, brown bears and wolves throughout most of their range. Usually there is little interaction between species that is documented.