Wild Ancestors: The Bengal Tiger
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When most people think of tigers, they think of the big cats that roam across Asia. However, there is a tiger sub species that is a bit larger and found in India and Bengal.
The Bengal tiger is the national animal of India and is a prized part of the country’s natural heritage. Though they are threatened by poaching and habitat loss, Bengal tigers still roam the forests and jungles of India. They are a magnificent sight to behold and make for an essential part of the ecosystem. Here are some fun facts about the Bengal Tiger.
Bengal tigers (Panthera Tigris) are one of the largest tiger subspecies and are often considered among the most majestic in appearance. They have a thick orange coat with black stripes that help them camouflage in the jungles and forests they call home. They have a lighter underbelly and amber or green eyes.
Bengal tiger cubs are born with stripes, which help camouflage them as they grow up. No two tigers have the same stripes, and individual animals can be identified by their strips thickness and the patterns the markings form.
Adult male Bengal tigers can grow quite large, weighing up to 250Kg (550 pounds). These large cats can grow to 3 meters (9.8 feet) long, from their nose to the tip of their tail.
Bengal Tiger Habitat
Bengal Tigers are found in Asia, where they roam the forests and jungles of India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, and Myanmar. They prefer to inhabit forested areas with freshwater rivers and lakes nearby. The Bengal tiger is sometimes referred to as the Indian tiger or Royal Bengal tiger and, although endangered, is the most common type of tiger. They thrive in warm climates but do well in colder areas.
What do Bengal tigers eat?
Bengal tigers are carnivores; they prey on a variety of mammals to survive, including deer, wild boar, monkeys, buffalo, and antelope. They will also prey on smaller animals if larger prey is scarce or they have cubs that they need to feed.
Tigers are ambush hunters and can spend hours waiting for just the right moment to strike their prey. They also stalk prey, keeping low in the undergrowth before
pouncing. Once they’ve caught an animal, the Bengal tigers tear their food apart to eat. Their powerful jaws and sharp teeth make this easy.
Bengal tigers do not limit themselves to hunting in one area but will track their prey across long distances. They hunt in the evening or early morning hours, resting during the daytime.
Breeding and Family Structure
Bengal tigers breed when they reach about three years of age, though males do not reach sexual maturity until they are about five years old. The mating season is in the winter months, though it can be anytime during the year if enough food is around to support a pregnancy. After mating, Bengal tigers will stay together for about three weeks before parting ways again.
A new litter typically has between two and six cubs. The gestation period lasts around three months, and the cubs are born blind in the spring or summer months. Cubs tend to stay with their mothers until they reach about sixteen months old. At this point, the young will leave their family group as tigers are solitary animals.
Bengal tigers have large territories which they mark with urine or faeces. Like domestic cats, they also have scent glands in their paws and faces, which are used to scent mark their territory.
Why are Bengal Tigers endangered?
Bengal tigers are considered endangered animals due to poaching for their fur, shooting to protect livestock, and habitat destruction. The illegal wildlife trade is an issue that needs to be resolved not only for these tigers but all animals around the world.
With only an estimated 1,500 to 2000 Bengal tigers left in the wild, these tigers are considered critically endangered. Bengal tigers are being closely monitored
by conservation groups such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to ensure they don’t become extinct. According to the WWF, more tigers are living in zoos than there are in the wild.
Many who live on the Indian continent rely on them for their livelihoods, which makes protecting the species important to many people.
Bengal tigers are magnificent creatures that rely on their natural habitat for survival. Due to poaching and habitat destruction, they are an endangered species. We must work together to save them before they become extinct!
If you’re interested in finding out more about big cats, check out some of our other articles below.