Highest Explore Position #128 ~ On Friday September 25th 2009.
Indian Tiger - Isle of Wight Zoo, Isle of Wight, England - Sunday
September 20th 2009.
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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia ~ The Bengal tiger, or Royal Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris or
Panthera tigris bengalensis), is a subspecies of tiger primarily found
in India and Bangladesh. They are also found in parts of Nepal,
Bhutan,Pakistan, Myanmar and southern Tibet. The Bengal tiger is the
most numerous of the tiger sub-species. According to WWF there are
about 2,000 Royal Bengal tigers in the wild today, including 1,411 in
India, 200 in Bangladesh, 150 in Nepal, 100 in Bhutan, as well as a
number in Myanmar and China.
The Bengal tiger is historically regarded as the second largest subspecies after the Siberian tiger.The Bengal subspecies P. tigris tigris is the national animal of Bangladesh, while at the species level, the tiger Panthera tigris is the national animal of India.
Physical characteristics ~ Previously it was considered the second largest subspecies, behind the Siberian tiger (Panthera tigris altaica), however a recent study suggests that maybe this subspecies could be, on average, the largest of the tigers. The total length for the males is of 270-310 cm meanwhile those of the females is of 240-265 cm; the tail measures 85-110 cm long and the height at the shoulder is 90-110 cm.The average weight is 221.2 kg (487.7 lb.) for the males and 139.7 kg (308 lb.) for the females, however those who inhabit the north of India and Nepal have an average weight of 235 kg (518 lb.) for the males and 140 kg (308.6 lb.) for the females. Its coat is yellow to light orange, and the stripes range from dark brown to black; the belly is white, and the tail is white with black rings. A mutation of the Bengal subspecies, the white tiger have dark brown or reddish brown stripes on a white background color, and some are entirely white. Black tigers have tawny, yellow or white stripes on a black background color. The pelage of a black tiger, recovered from smugglers, measured 259 cm and was displayed at the National Museum of Natural History, New Delhi. The existence of black tigers without stripes has been reported but not substantiated.
The Bengal tiger's roar can be heard for up to three kilometers (almost two miles) away.
Behaviour ~ Tigers do not live in prides as lions do. They do not live as family units because the male plays no part in raising his offspring . Tigers mark their territory by spraying urine on a branch or leaves or bark of a tree which leaves a particular scent behind. Tigers also spray urine to attract the opposite sex. When an outside individual comes into contact with the scent, it learns that the territory is occupied by another tiger. Hence, every tiger lives independently in their own territory.
Male Bengal tigers fiercely defend their territory from other tigers, often engaging in serious fighting. Female tigers are less territorial, occasionally a female will share her territory with other females. If a male happens to enter a female's territory, he would probably mate with her, if she is not already pregnant or has a litter. If she is pregnant or has a litter, he has no choice but to find himself a new territory and a mate. Similarly, females entering a male's territory are known to mate with him. Both males and females become independent of their mother around 18 months old, whereupon the cubs have to establish their own territories and fend for themselves. A male territory is larger than a female territory. Bengal tigers kill large animals like brown bears in their territory for food and as a symbol of their power.
Reproduction and lifecycle ~ Mating can occur at any time, more often between November and April. The females can have cubs at the age of 3–4 years; males reach maturity by about 4 years old. After the gestation period of 103 days, 2-5 cubs are born. Newborn cubs weigh about 1 kg (2.2 lb) and are blind and helpless. The mother feeds them milk for 6–8 weeks and then the cubs are introduced to meat. The cubs depend on the mother for the first 18 months and then they start hunting on their own.
Hunting and diet ~ Bengal tigers are classified as obligate carnivores, meaning that they have a diet of strictly meat. Bengal tigers eat a variety of animals found in their natural habitat, including deer (sambar, chital, barasingha, hog deer and muntjac), wild boars, water buffalo, gaur, nilgai antelope, and occasionally other ungulates (such as Nilgiri tahr, serow and takin, where available); tigers have also been observed eating small prey, such as monkeys, hares, birds (primarily peafowl), and porcupines, but large and medium-sized ungulates provide the majority of biomass consumed by tigers, and are essential for their survival. Bengal tigers have also been known to take other predators such as leopards, wolves, jackals, foxes, crocodiles, Asiatic Black Bears, Sloth bears, and dholes as prey, although these predators are not typically a part of the tiger's diet. Adult elephants and rhinoceroses are too large to be successfully tackled by tigers, but such extraordinarily rare events have been recorded. The indian hunter and naturalist Jim Corbett described an incident where two tigers fought and killed a large bull elephant. Due to the encroachment of humans on the Bengal tiger's habitat, Bengal tigers also eat domestic cattle, and if injured, old, or weak, humans. When a tiger consumes human flesh, it becomes known as a man-eater and will prey on humans. The nature of the Tiger's hunting method and prey availability results in a "feast or famine" feeding style. Tigers gorge themselves often consuming 18–20 kg (40-60 lbs) of meat at one time as they may not be successful hunting again for several days. Bengal tigers prey on vulnerability, so they attack the last animal at the end of a herd, kill it, and then drag the animal's carcass to a safe location to consume it.