(Last Updated on : 21-09-2018)
The Bengal tiger, also known as the Royal Bengal Tiger or the Indian tiger, is the Mainland Asian Tiger, which is the subspecies with the largest population. It is the national animal of both India and Bangladesh and its scientific name is Panthera Tigris Tigris
. The tiger first arrived in the Indian subcontinent about 12,000 years ago. The Royal Bengal Tiger ranks among the biggest wild cats alive today. It is considered to be belonging to the world's charismatic megafauna. Since 2008, this animal is listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List and is threatened by poaching.
Physiognomy of Royal Bengal Tiger
The physiognomy of the Royal Bengal Tiger is extremely attractive. It is a mammal with thick legs, strong teeth and jaws. The Royal Bengal Tiger's coat is yellow to light orange, with stripes ranging from dark brown to black; the belly and the interior parts of the limbs are white, and the tail is orange with black rings.
Male tigers have a length of 270 to 310 cm on average including the tail, while female tigers measure 240 to 265 cm on average. The tail is typically 85 to 110 cm long; the weight of male tigers ranges from 180 to 258 kg and weight of females ranges from 100 to 160 kg.
Distribution and Habitat of Royal Bengal Tiger
Most of the populations of Royal Bengal Tigers are in India, but there are some smaller groups in Bangladesh, Nepal, and Bhutan as well; it may also be present in some areas of China and Burma. An estimate of the World Tiger Recovery Program indicates that there are about 440 tigers in Bangladesh, about 155 in Nepal and about 75 in Bhutan. The approximate number of specimens is less than 2,500.
However, the latest census of 2016, as received from government sources, indicates that there are 106 tigers in Bangladesh, 103 in Bhutan, 198 in Nepal and 2,226 in India. This information is yet not confirmed by independent organizations. The Royal Bengal Tigers usually dwell in tropical rainforests, marshes, and tall grasses.
Diet of Royal Bengal Tiger
This animal mainly searches for medium or large prey, mainly ungulate mammals. Their hunting includes the gaur, water buffalo, sambar, chital or mottled deer, wild boar
and other species of deer
. They occasionally consume small prey such as rabbits and porcupines
, and they may attack domestic livestock sometimes as well. Royal Bengal tigers can consume up to 40 kilograms of food on a single occasion, though they usually consume a smaller amount.
Hunting Process of Royal Bengal Tiger
The power of the Royal Bengal tiger can clearly be observed when they are hunting. Tigers cannot follow their prey for long distance so they use a tactic for the hunting which includes both stealth and camouflage. During hunting in the sunlight, the tigers hide in the tall grass to stalk the prey. Camouflage can be so effective that the unsuspecting prey can be just a few meters away from the tiger. When it is ready, it attacks silently by the side or behind the victim, jumps quickly on it and strikes with a blow with its retractable claws or a bite in the neck. Then they drag the animal several meters to consume it or they can even transport the body through to the water.
Behavior of Royal Bengal Tiger
Like most tigers, Royal Bengal Tigers are solitary animals; they rest in the shade during the day and hunt at dusk or dawn. The Royal Bengal tigers are mostly spotted near water bodies to cool off.
Both the sexes of Royal Bengal Tigers search for the food and do the hunting individually unless food conditions become tough. Temporary contacts are possible by spraying the trees and rocks with a mixture of urine and musk
to mark their terrain. The individual areas provide them sufficient supply of water and food, protection, tranquility and the possibility to contact with other tigers and in the case of females, the development of their young tigers.
Reproduction of Royal Bengal Tiger
As the Bengal tigers are individuals and they perform most of their activities alone, so they only meet at the time of courtship, copulation, and parental care. The basic social unit is that of the mother with her cubs. There is no mating season in particular but most of the time the females give birth in the months of December to April. The sexual maturity in males grows between 4 and 5 years of age, and females get sexually matured between 3 and 4 years.
Their pregnancy period is on average for 104-106 days, although it may be for 98 to 110 days sometimes. The females give birth to 1 to 4 cubs in a place between the vegetation or in caves and begin to breastfeed them for 3-6 months after birth. At an age between 5 and 6 months, they start to learn hunting, and at the age of 2 or 3 years, they begin their solitary life as an individual.
Threats and Conservation
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the Royal Bengal Tigers are in danger for extinction. Though the most populated species, numbers of Bengal tigers are decreasing instead of increasing; it is a matter of being worried for the environmental organizations.
The main threats to this species are two and those are poaching and conflicts with humans over the territories. Poaching is mainly done for trading the products, which are obtained from the tigers, like tiger parts or pelts are active ingredient of drugs to cure various diseases. Their habitat is constantly reducing due to constant human invasion.
Since 1970, for the sake of reserving this species, India began to establish reserves through the Tiger Project that helped to stabilize the number of tigers. Also, the Indian Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 empowers the government to take conservation measures.
The Wildlife Protection Society of India is now taking care of all the allegations of tiger poaching. They have often seized tiger parts and pelts but have been unable to find the source of that offence. Even if they can arrest, there are more people involved in this illegal business who are out of everyones reach.