10 amazing Tiger facts based on observation and research over the years-
- Tigers (Panthera Tigris) are the largest of cat species with males of some subspecies growing upto 300 Kg. There are 5 subspecies active in the wild – Bengal Tiger, Siberian, IndoChinese, Malayan and Sumatran. South China tiger has not been spotted in the wild for many years and is considered to be functionally extinct by scientists. 3 sub-species are considered extinct-Java, Bali and Caspian tiger. However in 2017, the Cat Classification Task Force of the IUCN Cat Specialist Group revised felid taxonomy and now recognizes the tiger populations in continental Asia as P. t. tigris, and those in the Sunda Islands as P. t. sondaica.
- Tigers’ normal prey base include deer (various species found in forests), wild boar,buffalo, gaur (indian bison). Prey base may include fish,crabs, monitor lizard also (like that of Bengal tigers found in Sunderbans) depending on habitats
- Tigers are extremely territorial animals -area of a male tiger can vary from say 10 sqkm to few hundred sq kms depending on prey base, habitat etc.(Tigresses can still have their territory shared or overlapped) They mark their territory by spraying a fluid from urinary glands. The molecule 2 acetyl-1-pyrroline (2AP) is present in tiger urine (marking fluid) and is the same molecule that imparts the beautiful aroma to fragrant varieties of basmati rice (Research started by George Scaller and late Prof Ratan Lal Brahmacharyin 1964. Mr Brahmachary later completed the research with his student Mousumi Poddar and late Jyotirmoy Dutta of Bose Institute)
- Tigers have both real and “illusory” eyes . It is believed that the “illusory” eyes or white spots at the backside of the ears are either used to fool prey or guide young cubs to find and follow their mothers in tall grass.
- Unlike other big cats, tigers have affinity for water. They are excellent swimmers and spend considerable time cooling off with their backs in the water while continuously scanning the surroundings .
- Within the forests, the tiger has to hunt alone , in complete cover and silently move as close as possible to its prey – there is a short burst of speed before the tiger catches its prey and kills finally by strangulation with their cannines. Wildlife biologist George Scaller researched to find that out of 20 attempts only one such attempt is successful – a mere 5% of the hunts is successful ! Tiger conservationist Valmik Thapar estimated same to be 10%. On an average, one kill is required every week for an adult tiger (more if a tigress is rearing cubs)
- Tiger lifespan varies from 10 to 14 years in the wild -there are exceptions like Machli from Ranthambore who was the oldest to live for 19 years in the wild. In captivity lifespan ranges between 20 to 26 years
- Litter size of tigeresses can vary from 2 to 4 in most cases. But there are instances of only 1 cub as well as 5 cubs born to a mother (Sultan born to Noor in Ranthambore and Collarwali from Pench had 5 cubs in one litter). Cubs are usually reared by mother till they separate at the age of 18-24 months (males leave first)
- Every tiger is unique -no two tigers have the same pattern of stripes. These stripe patterns are studied closely nowadays through camera trapped images during census to arrive at a number of unique tigers in an area or forests
- Estimated 3800 around tigers live in the wild today as per the latest global count. India has approximately 70% of the population (Tiger is the National Animal) and it has classified as “Endangered” in the IUCN list
Tiger Pictures (Picture 1-Ranthambore and Picture 2-Bandhavgarh) are clicked by renowned actor and wildlife photographer Mr Sabyasachi Chakraborty-our sincere thanks to him.
HAPPY GLOBAL TIGER DAY-save the tiger before the stripes vanish in the wild!
-Suddhasattwa Das and Niladri Kundu.