Tiger – National Animal of India

Tiger – National Animal of India

Tiger, the largest cat species lives on the face of the earth. A mighty beast, a combination of grace, strength, agility and enormous power. They have muscular bodies with powerful forelimbs, large heads, and long tails. They have narrow black, brown or gray stripes. Their fur is dense and heavy; coloration varies between shades of orange and brown with white belly areas and distinctive vertical black stripes, whose patterns are unique to each individual. Their function is likely for camouflage in long grass with strong vertical patterns of light and shade.

Bengal Tiger

Bengal Tiger

They live in India, Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh, and is the most common subspecies. They live in alluvial grasslands, subtropical and tropical rainforests, scrub forests, wet and dry deciduous forests, and mangroves. It is the second-largest of the surviving subspecies.

Males attain a total nose-to-tail length of 270 to 310 cm (110 to 120 in) and weigh between 180 to 258 kg (397 to 569 lb) while females range from 240 to 265 cm (94 to 104 in) and 100 to 160 kg (220 to 350 lb). In northern India and Nepal, the average is larger; males can weigh up to 235 kilograms (518 lb) while females average 140 kilograms (310 lb). Coat color varies from light yellow to reddish yellow with black stripes.

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Tiger Diet

Tigers mainly eat Sambar deer, wild pigs, water buffalo and antelope. Tigers are also known to hunt sloth bears, dogs, leopards, crocodiles, and pythons as well as monkeys and hares. Old and injured tigers have been known to attack humans and domestic cattle.

They generally hunt alone and ambush their prey as most other cats do, overpowering them from any angle, using their body size and strength to knock the prey off balance. Successful hunts usually require the tiger to almost simultaneously leap onto its quarry, knock it over, and grab the throat or nape with its teeth. When hunting larger animals, tigers prefer to bite the throat and use their powerful forelimbs to hold onto the prey, often simultaneously wrestling it to the ground.

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Tiger Population

In the early 1900s, there were around 100,000 in  number throughout their range. Today, an estimated total of around 3,000-4,500 exist in the wild. Below is a breakdown of their numbers by subspecies.

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

The tiger was adopted as the National Animal by the Indian Board for Wildlife in 1972 in place of the lion. It was selected as a national animal because of its presence in larger parts of the country.

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