Royal Bengal Tiger

Bengal Tiger is endemic to the Indian subcontinent. Found mostly in India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan, they have been listed in the IUCN Red list for the endangered animals; and only about 2,500 are left in the wild.

Popularly known as the Royal Bengal Tiger, it is known as the most fierce and stealth hunter in the wild. A Bengal tiger is known to track its prey for days and go to extreme physical length for a hunt.

Factfile
Family Felidae
Species Panthera Tigris
Height 85 – 110 cm
Weight 320 – 350 kg
Length 270 – 310 cm
Habitat Tropical evergreen forests, decidious forests and mangroves
Location India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan

Overview

Bengal tiger is the largest among the Felidae, and falls under Panthera Tigris sub-category. The distant cousins of our favorite felines, cats, Bengal tigers mostly inhabit  the thick forests of the Indian sub-continent.

Tigers are apex predators, primarily preying on ungulates such as deer and bovids. They are territorial and generally solitary but social animals, often requiring large contiguous areas of habitat that support their prey requirements. They hunt all by themselves and are known for their fierce and nocturnal methods of hunting.

They sit at the top of the food chain, hence, preserving them becomes essential to maintain the overall biodiversity.

Most Bengal Tigers are found in India. The 2010 survey resulted in an estimated population of 1,706 in India, Bangladesh (440), Nepal (155) and Bhutan (75).

A white Bengal Tiger with black stripes is because of gene mutation and not because they are albino. There’s been only one case recorded when a complete black tiger was found in Chittagong in 1846.

Hunting & Poaching

Tigers were once the most prized animal for hunting. The expedition led by Maharajas and British officials, along with professional hungers reduced the number of tigers from 100,000 to just few hundred in a century.

Tiger hunt
Tiger hunt during the British expedition

The activity of rampant poaching which was banned and marked illegal in 1993 made them even more scarce. The skin and bones of tiger is supposedly known to carry medicinal properties. Most of the poached animal parts are traded into East Asia to be turned into medicines for various ailments.

The two other major reasons for their dwindling number is the prey loss and the conflict with humans. The deforestation and human settlements around their habitat has caused many tigers to get killed during the conflict.

Conservation

WWF along with the respective stakeholders of each country have been working since the last four decades to control poaching, human animal conflict and increase their number in the wild. Today, they are mainly kept under the surveillance in the Buffer zones, national parks and conservation areas.

Chitwan National Park (UNESCO World Heritage Site), covering 932 km2, was established in 1973 in the subtropical inner Terai belts of South-central Nepal. It is known as the first national park of Nepal. A buffer zone, it protects endangered species of Royal Bengal Tiger and One-horned Rhinos. Banke National Park, Shukla Phanta Wildlife Reserve and Bardia National Park are other buffer zones dedicated for the tigers in Nepal.

With just one tiger, we protect around 25,000 acres of forest. These ecosystems supply both nature and people with fresh water, food, and health. ~WWF


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