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Tigers - Basic Facts

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0

The Bali, Javan and Caspian are extinct tigers. These three species have vanished, disappearing around the late 1930s, 1970s and 1950s respectively. All tiger species are endangered and some have not been seen in the wild for some years.

There were once eight subspecies of tiger. Tigers belong to the Genus Panthera or 'big cats'. Of the five remaining groups, the Bengal is endangered and the rest critically endangered.

The Siberian tiger (below) is the largest of the five existing species reaching 13 feet in length and weighing up to 700 pounds. They are found primarily in the south east corner of Russia.

Siberian Tiger(132758)

The Bengal (Indian) tiger (below) is the most numerous and is found in India and south east Asia. Males reach 10 feet in length and weigh between 400 and 575 pounds.

Bengal Tiger(132748)

The Sumatran tiger (below) is the only remaining subspecies of Indonesian tiger. It is the smallest of the species with males reaching 8 feet and weighing around 264 pounds. Most are found in Indonesia's national parks.

Sumatran Tiger(132749)

The Indo Chinese tiger (below) is critically endangered. Poaching of both the tiger and the animals it preys on has put immense pressure on the tiger.

Indo-Chinese Tiger

The South Chinese tiger (below) was hunted as a pest and is cited as being 'functionally extinct'.

South Chinese Tiger

White tigers (below) are born due to a recessive gene for white colouring. They are not a separate species. Most specimens are Bengal tigers or Bengal hybrids.

White Tigers(132760)

Tigers live alone and normally have large territories. The range size of the Bengal is estimated at 10-39 km2 (3.9-15 mile2) for females and 30-105 km2 (11.7-40.5 mile2) for males. While the range of the other species is not accurately known, both the Indochinese and the Sumatran tiger are believed to have a population density of 4 to 5 adult tigers per 100 sq. kms.

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Tigers travel many miles to find their prey, mainly hunting at night. Their distinctive coats provide excellent camouflage. Tigers can be 'finger printed' by their stripe pattern with no two being identical. Tigers hunt by making a slow, silent approach before charging at its prey. The tiger may land on the victim's back, pinning it down and/or breaking its neck or biting through the throat. They are extremely strong and can drag prey weighing several hundred pounds as far as 500 metres to hide the animal in bushes or tall grass. Sixty pounds of meat can be consumed in a night, although they usually eat less. Most tigers avoid humans. Those that become dangerous 'man-eaters' are often sick or injured and thus unable to hunt or they may live in an area where there is no longer any traditional prey.

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The tiger has several lairs, one of which will be chosen by the female as a home for her litter of 2 to 6 cubs. Cubs are raised mostly by the mother. From 8 weeks of age, they join their mother hunting. By 6 months they have learnt how to kill and by 16 months old can feed themselves, although they remain with their mothers for two to three years before leaving, or being forced out, to find their own range. Tiger scent-mark their territories to keep rivals away and have good night vision and a strong sense of smell.

The tiger is a magnificent animal with many admirers. It would be sad indeed if such a beast became extinct.

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