Bengal Tiger

Bengal Tiger

Overview
The Bengal tiger is a tiger
Tiger
The tiger is the largest cat species, reaching a total body length of up to and weighing up to . Their most recognizable feature is a pattern of dark vertical stripes on reddish-orange fur with lighter underparts...

 subspecies
Subspecies
Subspecies in biological classification, is either a taxonomic rank subordinate to species, ora taxonomic unit in that rank . A subspecies cannot be recognized in isolation: a species will either be recognized as having no subspecies at all or two or more, never just one...

 native to the Indian subcontinent
Indian subcontinent
The Indian subcontinent, also Indian Subcontinent, Indo-Pak Subcontinent or South Asian Subcontinent is a region of the Asian continent on the Indian tectonic plate from the Hindu Kush or Hindu Koh, Himalayas and including the Kuen Lun and Karakoram ranges, forming a land mass which extends...

 that in 2010 has been classified as endangered
Endangered species
An endangered species is a population of organisms which is at risk of becoming extinct because it is either few in numbers, or threatened by changing environmental or predation parameters...

 by IUCN. The total population is estimated at fewer than 2,500 individuals with a decreasing trend, and none of the Tiger Conservation Landscapes within the Bengal tiger's range is large enough to support an effective population size of 250 adult individuals.

The Bengal tiger is the most numerous tiger subspecies with populations estimated at 1,411 in India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, 200 in Bangladesh
Bangladesh
Bangladesh , officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh is a sovereign state located in South Asia. It is bordered by India on all sides except for a small border with Burma to the far southeast and by the Bay of Bengal to the south...

, 124–229 in Nepal
Nepal
Nepal , officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked sovereign state located in South Asia. It is located in the Himalayas and bordered to the north by the People's Republic of China, and to the south, east, and west by the Republic of India...

 and 67–81 in Bhutan
Bhutan
Bhutan , officially the Kingdom of Bhutan, is a landlocked state in South Asia, located at the eastern end of the Himalayas and bordered to the south, east and west by the Republic of India and to the north by the People's Republic of China...

.

Bengal
Bengal
Bengal is a historical and geographical region in the northeast region of the Indian Subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal. Today, it is mainly divided between the sovereign land of People's Republic of Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal, although some regions of the previous...

 is traditionally fixed as the typical locality for the binomial
Binomial nomenclature
Binomial nomenclature is a formal system of naming species of living things by giving each a name composed of two parts, both of which use Latin grammatical forms, although they can be based on words from other languages...

 Panthera tigris, to which the British taxonomist Reginald Innes Pocock
Reginald Innes Pocock
Reginald Innes Pocock F.R.S. was a British zoologist.Pocock was born in Clifton, Bristol, the fourth son of Rev. Nicholas Pocock and Edith Prichard. He began showing interest in natural history at St. Edward's School, Oxford. He received tutoring in zoology from Sir Edward Poulton, and was allowed...

 subordinated the Bengal tiger in 1929 under the trinomial
Trinomial nomenclature
In biology, trinomial nomenclature refers to names for taxa below the rank of species. This is different for animals and plants:* for animals see trinomen. There is only one rank allowed below the rank of species: subspecies....

 Panthera tigris tigris.



The Bengal tiger's coat is yellow to light orange, with stripes ranging from dark brown to black; the belly is white, and the tail is white with black rings.

Male Bengal tigers range in total body length including the tail from 270 to 310 cm (106.3 to 122 in), while females range from 240 to 265 cm (94.5 to 104.3 in).
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Encyclopedia
The Bengal tiger is a tiger
Tiger
The tiger is the largest cat species, reaching a total body length of up to and weighing up to . Their most recognizable feature is a pattern of dark vertical stripes on reddish-orange fur with lighter underparts...

 subspecies
Subspecies
Subspecies in biological classification, is either a taxonomic rank subordinate to species, ora taxonomic unit in that rank . A subspecies cannot be recognized in isolation: a species will either be recognized as having no subspecies at all or two or more, never just one...

 native to the Indian subcontinent
Indian subcontinent
The Indian subcontinent, also Indian Subcontinent, Indo-Pak Subcontinent or South Asian Subcontinent is a region of the Asian continent on the Indian tectonic plate from the Hindu Kush or Hindu Koh, Himalayas and including the Kuen Lun and Karakoram ranges, forming a land mass which extends...

 that in 2010 has been classified as endangered
Endangered species
An endangered species is a population of organisms which is at risk of becoming extinct because it is either few in numbers, or threatened by changing environmental or predation parameters...

 by IUCN. The total population is estimated at fewer than 2,500 individuals with a decreasing trend, and none of the Tiger Conservation Landscapes within the Bengal tiger's range is large enough to support an effective population size of 250 adult individuals.

The Bengal tiger is the most numerous tiger subspecies with populations estimated at 1,411 in India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, 200 in Bangladesh
Bangladesh
Bangladesh , officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh is a sovereign state located in South Asia. It is bordered by India on all sides except for a small border with Burma to the far southeast and by the Bay of Bengal to the south...

, 124–229 in Nepal
Nepal
Nepal , officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked sovereign state located in South Asia. It is located in the Himalayas and bordered to the north by the People's Republic of China, and to the south, east, and west by the Republic of India...

 and 67–81 in Bhutan
Bhutan
Bhutan , officially the Kingdom of Bhutan, is a landlocked state in South Asia, located at the eastern end of the Himalayas and bordered to the south, east and west by the Republic of India and to the north by the People's Republic of China...

.

Bengal
Bengal
Bengal is a historical and geographical region in the northeast region of the Indian Subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal. Today, it is mainly divided between the sovereign land of People's Republic of Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal, although some regions of the previous...

 is traditionally fixed as the typical locality for the binomial
Binomial nomenclature
Binomial nomenclature is a formal system of naming species of living things by giving each a name composed of two parts, both of which use Latin grammatical forms, although they can be based on words from other languages...

 Panthera tigris, to which the British taxonomist Reginald Innes Pocock
Reginald Innes Pocock
Reginald Innes Pocock F.R.S. was a British zoologist.Pocock was born in Clifton, Bristol, the fourth son of Rev. Nicholas Pocock and Edith Prichard. He began showing interest in natural history at St. Edward's School, Oxford. He received tutoring in zoology from Sir Edward Poulton, and was allowed...

 subordinated the Bengal tiger in 1929 under the trinomial
Trinomial nomenclature
In biology, trinomial nomenclature refers to names for taxa below the rank of species. This is different for animals and plants:* for animals see trinomen. There is only one rank allowed below the rank of species: subspecies....

 Panthera tigris tigris.

Characteristics




The Bengal tiger's coat is yellow to light orange, with stripes ranging from dark brown to black; the belly is white, and the tail is white with black rings.

Male Bengal tigers range in total body length including the tail from 270 to 310 cm (106.3 to 122 in), while females range from 240 to 265 cm (94.5 to 104.3 in). The head and body length of males from Nagarahole National Park ranged from 189 to 204 cm (74.4 to 80.3 in), with a tail length of 100 to 107 cm (39.4 to 42.1 in), while a female measured 161 cm (63.4 in), with a tail length of 87 cm (34.3 in). The weight of males captured in Chitwan National Park ranged from 200 to 261 kg (440.9 to 575.4 lb), and of females from 116 to 164 kg (255.7 to 361.6 lb). Males from the northern Indian subcontinent are as large as Siberian tigers with a greatest length of skull of 332 to 376 mm (13.1 to 14.8 in).

The white tiger
White tiger
The white tiger is a recessive mutant of the Bengal tiger, which was reported in the wild from time to time in Assam, Bengal, Bihar and especially from the former State of Rewa.-Color comparison:...

 is a recessive mutant of the Bengal tiger, which was reported in the wild from time to time in Assam
Assam
Assam , also, rarely, Assam Valley and formerly the Assam Province , is a northeastern state of India and is one of the most culturally and geographically distinct regions of the country...

, Bengal
Bengal
Bengal is a historical and geographical region in the northeast region of the Indian Subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal. Today, it is mainly divided between the sovereign land of People's Republic of Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal, although some regions of the previous...

, Bihar
Bihar
Bihar is a state in eastern India. It is the 12th largest state in terms of geographical size at and 3rd largest by population. Almost 58% of Biharis are below the age of 25, which is the highest proportion in India....

 and especially from the former State of Rewa
Rewa (princely state)
Rewa was a princely state of India, surrounding its eponymous capital, the town of Rewa.-Description:With an area of about 13,000 mi², Rewa was the largest princely state in the Bagelkhand Agency and the second largest in Central India Agency. The British political agent for Bagelkhand resided...

. There is only one fully authenticated case of a true albino tiger, and none of black tigers, with the possible exception of one dead specimen examined in Chittagong
Chittagong
Chittagong ) is a city in southeastern Bangladesh and the capital of an eponymous district and division. Built on the banks of the Karnaphuli River, the city is home to Bangladesh's busiest seaport and has a population of over 4.5 million, making it the second largest city in the country.A trading...

 in 1846.

Records


A heavy male weighing 258.6 kg (570.1 lb) was shot in Northern India in 1938. In 1980 and 1984, scientists captured and tagged two male tigers in Chitwan National Park that weighed more than 270 kg (595.2 lb). The largest known Bengal tiger was a male with a head and body length of 221 cm (87 in) measured between pegs, 150 cm (59.1 in) of chest girth, a shoulder height of 109 cm (42.9 in) and a tail of just 81 cm (31.9 in), perhaps bitten off by a rival male. This specimen could not be weighed, but it was calculated to weigh no less than 272 kg (599.7 lb). The heaviest known tiger was a huge male killed in 1967 that measured 322 cm (126.8 in) in total length between the pegs, 338 cm (133.1 in) over curves, and weighed 388.7 kg (856.9 lb). This specimen is on exhibition in the Mammals Hall of the Smithsonian Institution
Smithsonian Institution
The Smithsonian Institution is an educational and research institute and associated museum complex, administered and funded by the government of the United States and by funds from its endowment, contributions, and profits from its retail operations, concessions, licensing activities, and magazines...

.

Two tigers shot in Kumaon and near Oude at the end of the 19th century allegedly measured more than 12 ft (365.8 cm).

Genetic ancestry


Bengal tigers are defined by three distinct mitochondrial nucleotide
Nucleotide
Nucleotides are molecules that, when joined together, make up the structural units of RNA and DNA. In addition, nucleotides participate in cellular signaling , and are incorporated into important cofactors of enzymatic reactions...

 sites and 12 unique microsatellite
Microsatellite
Microsatellites, also known as Simple Sequence Repeats or short tandem repeats , are repeating sequences of 2-6 base pairs of DNA....

 alleles. The pattern of genetic variation
Genetic variation
Genetic variation, variation in alleles of genes, occurs both within and among populations. Genetic variation is important because it provides the “raw material” for natural selection. Genetic variation is brought about by mutation, a change in a chemical structure of a gene. Polyploidy is an...

 in the Bengal tiger corresponds to the premise that they arrived in India approximately 12,000 years ago. This recent history of tigers in the Indian subcontinent is consistent with the lack of tiger fossils from India prior to the late Pleistocene
Pleistocene
The Pleistocene is the epoch from 2,588,000 to 11,700 years BP that spans the world's recent period of repeated glaciations. The name pleistocene is derived from the Greek and ....

 and the absence of tigers from Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

, which was separated from the subcontinent by rising sea levels in the early Holocene
Holocene
The Holocene is a geological epoch which began at the end of the Pleistocene and continues to the present. The Holocene is part of the Quaternary period. Its name comes from the Greek words and , meaning "entirely recent"...

.

Distribution and habitat



In 1982, a sub-fossil
Fossil
Fossils are the preserved remains or traces of animals , plants, and other organisms from the remote past...

 right middle phalanx was found in a prehistoric midden
Midden
A midden, is an old dump for domestic waste which may consist of animal bone, human excrement, botanical material, vermin, shells, sherds, lithics , and other artifacts and ecofacts associated with past human occupation...

 near Kuruwita
Kuruwita
Kuruwita is a town in the Ratnapura District of Sabaragamuwa Province of Sri Lanka. It is 120 km from Colombo. It used to be served by a narrow gauge branch of the national railway system....

 in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

, which is dated to about 16,500 ybp and tentatively considered to be of a tiger. Tigers appear to have arrived in Sri Lanka during a pluvial period during which sea levels were depressed, evidently prior to the last glacial maximum about 20,000 years ago. Previously, there has been some speculation about the time of arrival of tigers in the Indian subcontinent, and that they reached southern India too late to colonize Ceylon, which earlier had been connected to India by a land bridge
Land bridge
A land bridge, in biogeography, is an isthmus or wider land connection between otherwise separate areas, over which animals and plants are able to cross and colonise new lands...

.

In the Indian subcontinent, tigers inhabit tropic
Tropic
A tropic can refer to:In geography, either of two circles of latitude:*Tropic of Cancer, at 23° 26' 16" N*Tropic of Capricorn, at 23° 26' 16" S...

al moist evergreen forests, tropical dry forests, tropical and subtropical moist deciduous forests, mangroves, subtropical and temperate upland forests, and alluvial grasslands. Latter tiger habitat once covered a huge swath of grassland and riverine and moist semi-deciduous forests along the major river system of the Gangetic and Brahmaputra plain
Brahmaputra River
The Brahmaputra , also called Tsangpo-Brahmaputra, is a trans-boundary river and one of the major rivers of Asia. It is the only Indian river that is attributed the masculine gender and thus referred to as a in Indo-Aryan languages and languages with Indo-Aryan influence...

s, but has now been largely converted to agriculture or severely degraded
Degradation
Degradation may refer to;* Biodegradation, the processes by which organic substances are broken down by living organisms* Cashiering or degradation ceremony, a ritual performed when cleric is deprived of office or a knight is stripped of the honour...

. Today, the best examples of this habitat type are limitated to a few blocks at the base of the outer foothills of the Himalayas
Himalayas
The Himalaya Range or Himalaya Mountains Sanskrit: Devanagari: हिमालय, literally "abode of snow"), usually called the Himalayas or Himalaya for short, is a mountain range in Asia, separating the Indian subcontinent from the Tibetan Plateau...

 including the Tiger Conservation Units (TCUs) Rajaji
Rajaji National Park
Rajaji National Park is an Indian national park that encompasses the Shivaliks, near the foothills of the Himalayas. It is spread over 820 km²., and three districts of Uttarakhand: Haridwar, Dehradun and Pauri Garhwal. In 1983, three wildlife sanctuaries in the area namely, Chilla, Motichur...

-Corbett, Bardia-Banke
Banke National Park
Banke National Park is located in the Mid-Western Region, Nepal and was established in May 2010 as Nepal’s tenth national park, covering an area of 550 km2 with most parts falling on the Churia range....

, and the transboundary TCUs Chitwan-Parsa
Parsa Wildlife Reserve
Parsa Wildlife Reserve is a protected area in the Inner Terai lowlands of south-central Nepal. Established in 1984, it covers an area of in the Parsa, Makwanpur and Bara districts and is the largest wildlife reserve in the country...

-Valmiki
Valmiki National Park
Valmiki National Park is located in the West Champaran district of Bihar, India. The extensive forest area of Valmikinagar was owned by the Bettiah Raj and Ramanagar Raj until early 1950s...

, Dudhwa
Dudhwa Tiger Reserve
The Dudhwa Tiger Reserve consists of the Dudhwa National Park, the Kishanpur Wildlife Sanctuary and the Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh, India and is located in the alluvial plain, the doab of the Mohana and Suheli rivers....

-Kailali
Kailali District
Kailali District of 616,697. Dhangadhi is a center of attraction of not only Kailali district but of the whole seti zone. The district also contains Tikapur Park, one of the biggest parks in Nepal, and Godha-Ghodi Tal lake.-Towns and villages:Baliya...

 and Sukla Phanta
Sukla Phanta Wildlife Reserve
Sukla Phanta Wildlife Reserve is a protected area in the Terai of the Far-Western Region, Nepal, covering of open grassland, forests, riverbeds and tropical wetlands at an altitude of . It was gazetted in 1973 as Royal Sukla Phanta Wildlife Reserve...

-Kishanpur
Kishanpur Wildlife Sanctuary
The Kishanpur Wildlife Sanctuary is a part of the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve near Mailani in Uttar Pradesh, India. It covers an area of 227 km2 and was founded in 1972.-Fauna:* Tiger* Leopard* Swamp Deer* Hog Deer* Barking Deer* Bengal Florican...

. Tiger densities in these blocks are high, in part a response to the extraordinary biomass of ungulate
Ungulate
Ungulates are several groups of mammals, most of which use the tips of their toes, usually hoofed, to sustain their whole body weight while moving. They make up several orders of mammals, of which six to eight survive...

 prey.

India


In the past, Indian censuses of wild tigers relied on the individual identification of footprints known as pug marks — a method that has been criticized as deficient and inaccurate.

Good tiger habitats in subtropical and temperate upland forests include the Tiger Conservation Units (TCUs) Manas
Manas National Park
Manas National Park or Manas Wildlife Sanctuary is a Wildlife Sanctuary, UNESCO Natural World Heritage site, a Project Tiger Reserve, an Elephant Reserve and a Biosphere Reserve in Assam, India. Located in the Himalayan foothills, it is contiguous with the Royal Manas National park in Bhutan...

-Namdapha
Namdapha National Park
Namdapha National Park is the largest protected area in the Eastern Himalaya biodiversity hotspot and is located in Arunachal Pradesh in Northeast India. It is also the largest national park in India in terms of area. It is located in the Eastern Himalayan sub-region and is recognized as one of the...

. TCUs in tropical dry forest include Hazaribagh National Park
Hazaribagh National Park
Hazaribagh National Park, about 135 km from Ranchi is also a sanctuary adorned with scenic beauties. The park has also the same features as that of Betla to some extent. The park has tigers, panthers, sambhars, spotted deer, bisons and a number of mammalian faunas. There are some towers which...

, Nagarjunsagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserve, Kanha
Kanha National Park
Kanha National Park is a national park and a Tiger Reserve in the Mandla and Balaghat districts of Madhya Pradesh, India. In the 1930s, Kanha area was divided into two sanctuaries, Hallon and Banjar, of 250 and 300 km² . Kanha National Park was created on 1 June, 1955. Today it stretches over an...

-Indravati
Indravati National Park
Indravati National Park is a national park located in the Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh state of India. It derives its name from the nearby Indravati River. It is home to one of the last populations of rare wild buffalo....

 corridor, Orissa
Orissa
Orissa , officially Odisha since Nov 2011, is a state of India, located on the east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. It is the modern name of the ancient nation of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Maurya Emperor Ashoka in 261 BC. The modern state of Orissa was established on 1 April...

 dry forests, Panna National Park
Panna National Park
Panna National Park is a national park located in Panna and Chhatarpur districts of Madhya Pradesh in India. It has an area of about 543 square miles . The terrain in Panna National Park is undulating and heavily forested with many streams and waterfalls.Among the animals found here are the chital,...

, Melghat Tiger Reserve and Ratapani Tiger Reserve
Ratapani Tiger Reserve
The Ratapani Tiger Reserve, located in the Raisen district of Madhya Pradesh in central India, is one of the finest teak forests in the state and is a short drive away from the capital Bhopal. Previously a Wildlife Sanctuary since 1976, the government of India upgraded the Ratapani Wildlife...

. The TCUs in tropical moist deciduous forest are probably some of the most productive habitats for tigers and their prey, and include Kaziranga
Kaziranga National Park
Kaziranga National Park is a national park in the Golaghat and Nagaon districts of the state of Assam, India. A World Heritage Site, the park hosts two-thirds of the world's Great One-horned Rhinoceroses. Kaziranga boasts the highest density of tigers among protected areas in the world and was...

-Meghalaya
Meghalaya
Meghalaya is a state in north-eastern India. The word "Meghalaya" literally means the Abode of Clouds in Sanskrit and other Indic languages. Meghalaya is a hilly strip in the eastern part of the country about 300 km long and 100 km wide, with a total area of about 8,700 sq mi . The...

, Kanha
Kanha National Park
Kanha National Park is a national park and a Tiger Reserve in the Mandla and Balaghat districts of Madhya Pradesh, India. In the 1930s, Kanha area was divided into two sanctuaries, Hallon and Banjar, of 250 and 300 km² . Kanha National Park was created on 1 June, 1955. Today it stretches over an...

-Pench
Pench National Park
For Pench National Park in Madhya Pradesh, see Pench National Park, Madhya Pradesh.Pench National Park, nestling in the lower southern reaches of the satpuda hills is named after Pench river, meandering through the park from north to south...

, Simlipal and Indravati Tiger Reserves. The TCUs in tropical moist evergreen forests represent the less common tiger habitats, being largely limited to the upland areas and wetter parts of the Western Ghats
Western Ghats
The Western Ghats, Western Ghauts or the Sahyādri is a mountain range along the western side of India. It runs north to south along the western edge of the Deccan Plateau, and separates the plateau from a narrow coastal plain along the Arabian Sea. The Western Ghats block rainfall to the Deccan...

, and include the Tiger Reserves of Periyar, Kalakad-Mundathurai, Bandipur and Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary
Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary
Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary is a 285 km² Protected area in Chittur taluk in Palakkad district of Kerala state, South India. Established in 1973, it is in the Sungam range of hills between the Anaimalai Hills and Nelliampathy Hills.,, The Western Ghats, Anamalai Sub-Cluster, including all...

.

The methodology used during the tiger census of 2008 extrapolates site-specific densities of tigers, their co-predators and prey derived from camera trap
Camera trap
A camera trap is a remotely activated camera that is equipped with a motion sensor or an infrared sensor, or uses a light beam as a trigger. Camera trapping is a method for capturing wild animals on film when researchers are not present, and has been used in ecological research for decades...

 and sign surveys using GIS. Based on the result of these surveys, the total tiger population has been estimated at 1,411 individuals ranging from 1,165 to 1,657 adult and sub-adult tigers of more than 1.5 years of age. The following six landscape complexes comprising several ecological landscapes were surveyed across India based on current tiger occupancy and potential for connectivity:
  • in the Shivaliks–Gangetic flood plain landscape there are six populations with an estimated population size of 259 to 335 individuals occupying 5080 square kilometre of forested habitats, which are located in Rajaji and Corbett national parks, in the connected habitats of Dudhwa-Kheri-Pilibhit
    Pilibhit Tiger Reserve
    -Introduction:Pilibhit is one of the few well forested districts in Uttar Pradesh. According to an estimate of year 2004, Pilibhit district has over 800 km2 forests, constituting roughly 23 per cent of the district’s total area....

    , in Suhelwa Tiger Reserve, in Sohagi Barwa Sanctuary
    Sohagi Barwa Sanctuary
    Sohagi Barwa Sanctuary is in Maharajganj district in Uttar Pradesh. Sohagi Barwa is one of the habitat of Tiger in Uttar Pradesh.-Getting There:The nearest railhead is Gorakhpur, at a distance of 56 KM & which is connected to the rest of the country....

     and in Valmiki National Park
    Valmiki National Park
    Valmiki National Park is located in the West Champaran district of Bihar, India. The extensive forest area of Valmikinagar was owned by the Bettiah Raj and Ramanagar Raj until early 1950s...

    ;
  • in the Central Indian highlands there are 17 populations with an estimated population size of 437 to 661 individuals occupying 48610 square kilometre of forested habitats, which are located in the landscapes of Kanha-Pench, Satpura
    Satpura National Park
    Satpura National Park is located in district Hoshangabad of Madhya Pradesh in India. It gets the name from Satpura hill ranges ....

    -Melghat, Sanjay
    Sanjay Gandhi National Park
    Sanjay Gandhi National Park , previously Borivali National Park, is a large protected area in the northern part of suburban Mumbai city in Maharashtra State in India...

    -Palamau, Navegaon
    Navegaon National Park
    Navegaon National Park is a national park located in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, India.133.88 km².About 60% of the bird species found in this state can be seen in the National Park....

    -Indravati; isolated populations are supported in the tiger reserves of Bandhavgarh, Tadoba, Simlipal and the national parks of Panna, Ranthambore
    Ranthambore National Park
    Ranthambore National Park or Ranthambhore National Park or simply Ranthambhore is one of the largest national parks in northern India. It is situated in Sawai Madhopur district of southeastern Rajasthan, about 180 km south east of Jaipur, which is also the nearest airport...

    –Kuno–Palpur–Madhav and Saranda;
  • in the Eastern Ghats
    Eastern Ghats
    The Eastern Ghats or Eastern Ghauts are a discontinuous range of mountains along India's eastern coast. The Eastern Ghats run from West Bengal state in the north, through Orissa and Andhra Pradesh to Tamil Nadu in the south passing some parts of Karnataka. They are eroded and cut through by the...

     landscape there is a single population with an estimated population size of 49 to 57 individuals occupying 7772 square kilometre of habitat in three separate forest blocks located in the Srivenkateshwara National Park, Nagarjunasagar Tiger Reserve and the adjacent proposed Gundla Brahmeshwara National Park, and forest patches in the tehsil
    Tehsil
    A Tehsil or Tahsil/Tahasil , also known as Taluk and Mandal, is an administrative division of some country/countries of South Asia....

    s of Kanigiri
    Kanigiri
    Kanigiri is a town and a Mandal in Prakasam district in the state of Andhra Pradesh in India.- History :Kanigiri is a historic place as the capital city of the kingdom ruled by "Katama Raju" . There are some historical monuments in and around the hill...

    , Baduel, Udayagiri
    Udayagiri
    Udayagiri is the name of many places in India, among them:*Udayagiri Fort, one in Tamil Nadu and the other in Andhra Pradesh...

     and Giddalur;
  • in the Western Ghats
    Western Ghats
    The Western Ghats, Western Ghauts or the Sahyādri is a mountain range along the western side of India. It runs north to south along the western edge of the Deccan Plateau, and separates the plateau from a narrow coastal plain along the Arabian Sea. The Western Ghats block rainfall to the Deccan...

     landscape there are seven populations with an estimated population size of 336 to 487 individuals occupying 21435 square kilometre forest in three major landscape units;
  • in the Brahmaputra
    Brahmaputra River
    The Brahmaputra , also called Tsangpo-Brahmaputra, is a trans-boundary river and one of the major rivers of Asia. It is the only Indian river that is attributed the masculine gender and thus referred to as a in Indo-Aryan languages and languages with Indo-Aryan influence...

     flood plains and north-eastern hills tigers occupy 4230 square kilometre in several patchy and fragmented forests;
  • in the Indian Sundarbans
    Sundarbans
    The Sundarbans [Sundarban Tour Booking-9051115228] is the largest single block of tidal halophytic mangrove forest in the world.The name Sundarban can be literally translated as "beautiful jungle" or "beautiful forest" in the Bengali language...

     tigers occupy about 1586 square kilometre of mangrove forest.


In May 2008, forest officials spotted 14 tiger cubs in Rajasthan
Rajasthan
Rājasthān the land of Rajasthanis, , is the largest state of the Republic of India by area. It is located in the northwest of India. It encompasses most of the area of the large, inhospitable Great Indian Desert , which has an edge paralleling the Sutlej-Indus river valley along its border with...

's Ranthambore National Park. In June 2008, a tiger from Ranthambore was relocated to Sariska Tiger Reserve
Sariska Tiger Reserve
The Sariska Tiger Reserve is a national park in India located in the Alwar district of the state of Rajasthan. The topography of Sariska supports scrub-thorn arid forests, dry deciduous forests, rocks and grasses. This area was a hunting preserve of the erstwhile Alwar state and it was declared a...

, where all tigers had fallen victim to poachers and human encroachments since 2005.

Nepal


The tiger population in the Terai
Terai
The Terai is a belt of marshy grasslands, savannas, and forests located south of the outer foothills of the Himalaya, the Siwalik Hills, and north of the Indo-Gangetic Plain of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and their tributaries. The Terai belongs to the Terai-Duar savanna and grasslands ecoregion...

 of Nepal is split into three isolated subpopulations that are separated by cultivation and densely settled habitat. The largest population lives in Chitwan National Park and in the adjacent Parsa Wildlife Reserve
Parsa Wildlife Reserve
Parsa Wildlife Reserve is a protected area in the Inner Terai lowlands of south-central Nepal. Established in 1984, it covers an area of in the Parsa, Makwanpur and Bara districts and is the largest wildlife reserve in the country...

 encompassing an area of 2543 km² (981.9 sq mi) of prime lowland forest. To the west, the Chitwan population is isolated from the one in Bardia National Park and adjacent unprotected habitat further west, extending to within 15 km of the Sukla Phanta Wildlife Reserve
Sukla Phanta Wildlife Reserve
Sukla Phanta Wildlife Reserve is a protected area in the Terai of the Far-Western Region, Nepal, covering of open grassland, forests, riverbeds and tropical wetlands at an altitude of . It was gazetted in 1973 as Royal Sukla Phanta Wildlife Reserve...

, which harbours the smallest population. The bottleneck between the Chitwan/Parsa and Bardia/Sukla Phanta metapopulations is situated just north of the town of Butwal
Butwal
Butwal is a large town in southern Nepal in Rupandehi District, in Lumbini Zone -- of which Butwal is the administrative center. It is located 240 kilometres west of Kathmandu and 22 kilometers north of Bhairahawa, at the northern edge of the Terai plain below the Siwalik Hills...

.

As of 2009, an estimated 121 breeding tigers lived in Nepal. By 2010, the number of adult tigers has reached 155. A survey conducted from December 2009 to March 2010 indicates that 125 adult tigers live in Chitwan National Park and its border areas covering 1261 km² (486.9 sq mi).

Bangladesh


As of 2004, population estimates in Bangladesh ranged from 200 to 419, mostly in the Sunderbans. This region is the only mangrove habitat in this bioregion, where tigers survive, swimming between islands in the delta to hunt prey.

Bhutan


As of 2005, the population in Bhutan is estimated at 67–81 individuals. Tigers occur from an altitude of 200 m (656.2 ft) in the subtropical Himalayan foothills in the south along the border with India to over 3000 m (9,842.5 ft) in the temperate forests in the north, and are known from 17 of 18 districts
Dzongkhag
A dzongkhag is an administrative and judicial district of Bhutan. The twenty dzongkhags of Bhutan are further divided into 205 gewogs. Some larger dzongkhags have one or more of an intermediate judicial division, known as dungkhags , which themselves comprise two or more gewogs...

. Their stronghold appears to be the central belt of the country ranging in altitude between 2000 and 3500 m (6,561.7 and 11,482.9 ft), between the Mo River
Mo River
The Mo River is a river of Togo and Ghana. It arises in Togo and flows west, forming a short part of the international boundary between Togo and Ghana. It empties into Lake Volta....

 in the west and the Kulong River in the east. In 2010, camera trap
Camera trap
A camera trap is a remotely activated camera that is equipped with a motion sensor or an infrared sensor, or uses a light beam as a trigger. Camera trapping is a method for capturing wild animals on film when researchers are not present, and has been used in ecological research for decades...

s recorded a pair of tigers at altitudes of 3000 to 4100 m (9,842.5 to 13,451.4 ft). The male was recorded scent-marking, and the female can also be seen to be lactating, confirming that the pair are living within their own territory, and strongly suggesting they are breeding at that altitude.

Ecology and behaviour



The basic social unit of the tiger is the elemental one of mother and offspring. Adult animals congregate only on an ad hoc and transitory basis when special conditions permit, such as plentiful supply of food. Otherwise they lead solitary lives, hunting individually for the dispersed forest and tall grassland animals, upon which they prey. They establish and maintain home ranges. Resident adults of either sex tend to confine their movements to a definite area of habitat within which they satisfy their needs, and in the case of tigresses, those of their growing cubs. Besides providing the requirements of an adequate food supply, sufficient water and shelter, and a modicum of peace and seclusion, this location must make it possible for the resident to maintain contact with other tigers, especially those of the opposite sex. Those sharing the same ground are well aware of each other’s movements and activities.

In the Panna Tiger Reserve an adult radio-collared male tiger moved 1.7 to 10.5 km (1.1 to 6.5 mi) between locations on successive days in winter, and 1 to 13.9 km (0.621372736649807 to 8.6 mi) in summer. His home range was about 200 km² (77.2 sq mi) in summer and 110 km² (42.5 sq mi) in winter. Included in his home range were the much smaller home ranges of two females, a tigress with cubs and a sub-adult tigress. They occupied home ranges of 16 to 31 km² (6.2 to 12 sqmi).

The home ranges occupied by adult male residents tend to be mutually exclusive, even though one of these residents may tolerate a transient or sub-adult male at least for a time. A male tiger keeps a large territory in order to include the home ranges of several females within its bounds, so that he may maintain mating
Mating
In biology, mating is the pairing of opposite-sex or hermaphroditic organisms for copulation. In social animals, it also includes the raising of their offspring. Copulation is the union of the sex organs of two sexually reproducing animals for insemination and subsequent internal fertilization...

 rights with them. Spacing among females is less complete. Typically there is partial overlap with neighbouring female residents. They tend to have core areas, which are more exclusive, at least for most of the time. Home ranges of both males and females are not stable. The shift or alteration of a home range by one animal is correlated with a shift of another. Shifts from less suitable habitat to better ones are made by animals that are already resident. New animals become residents only as vacancies occur when a former resident moves out or dies. There are more places for resident females than for resident males.

During seven years of camera trapping, tracking, and observational data in Chitwan National Park, 6 to 9 breeding tigers, 2 to 16 non-breeding tigers, and 6 to 20 young tigers of less than one year of age were detected in the study area of 100 km² (38.6 sq mi). One of the resident females left her territory to one of her female offspring and took over an adjoining area by displacing another female; and a displaced female managed to re-establish herself in a neighboring territory made vacant by the death of the resident. Of 11 resident females, 7 were still alive at the end of the study period, 2 disappeared after losing their territories to rivals, and 2 died. The initial loss of two resident males and subsequent take over of their home ranges by new males caused social instability for two years. Of 4 resident males, 1 was still alive and 3 were displaced by rivals. Five litters of cubs were killed by infanticide, 2 litters died because they were too young to fend for themselves when their mothers died. One juvenile tiger was presumed dead after being photographed with severe injuries from a deer snare
Snare
Snare may refer to:* Snare trap, a kind of trap used for capturing animals* Snare drum* SNARE , a family of proteins involved in vesicle fusion* The Snares, a group of islands approximately 200 kilometres south of New Zealand...

. The remaining young lived long enough to reach dispersal age, 2 of them becoming residents in the study area.

Hunting and diet


Tigers are obligate carnivores. They prefer hunting large ungulate
Ungulate
Ungulates are several groups of mammals, most of which use the tips of their toes, usually hoofed, to sustain their whole body weight while moving. They make up several orders of mammals, of which six to eight survive...

s such as chital
Chital
The chital or cheetal , also known as chital deer, spotted deer or axis deer is a deer which commonly inhabits wooded regions of Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and in small numbers in Pakistan...

, sambar, gaur
Gaur
The gaur , also called Indian bison, is a large bovine native to South Asia and Southeast Asia. The species is listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List since 1986 as the population decline in parts of the species' range is likely to be well over 70% over the last three generations...

, and to a lesser extent also barasingha
Barasingha
The Barasingha or Swamp deer is a deer species currently found in isolated localities in north and central India, and southwestern Nepal, and is extinct in Pakistan and Bangladesh....

, water buffalo
Water buffalo
The water buffalo is a domesticated bovid widely kept in Asia, Europe and South America.Water buffalo can also refer to:*Wild water buffalo , the wild ancestor of the domestic water buffalo...

, nilgai
Nilgai
The nilgai , sometimes called nilgau, is an antelope, and is one of the most commonly seen wild animals of central and northern India and eastern Pakistan; it is also present in parts of southern Nepal. The mature males appear ox-like and are also known as blue bulls...

, serow
Serow
Serow may refer to:*Three species of Asian ungulate in the genus Capricornis**Japanese Serow**Mainland Serow**Taiwan Serow* Serow, Iran, a city in Urmia County, West Azarbaijan Province, Iran*Alternative spelling of Serov...

 and takin
Takin
The Takin , also called cattle chamois or gnu goat, is a goat-antelope found in the Eastern Himalayas. There are four subspecies: B. taxicolor taxicolor, the Mishmi Takin; B. taxicolor bedfordi, the Shanxi or Golden Takin; B. taxicolor tibetana, the Tibetan or Sichuan Takin; and B. taxicolor...

. Among the medium-sized prey species they frequently kill wild boar, and occasionally hog deer
Hog Deer
The Hog Deer is a small deer whose habitat ranges from Pakistan, through northern India, to mainland southeast Asia...

, muntjac
Muntjac
Muntjac, also known as Barking Deer and Mastreani Deer, are small deer of the genus Muntiacus. Muntjac are the oldest known deer, appearing 15–35 million years ago, with remains found in Miocene deposits in France, Germany and Poland....

 and Gray langur
Gray langur
Gray langurs or Hanuman langurs, the most widespread langurs of South Asia, are a group of Old World monkeys constituting the entirety of the genus Semnopithecus. All taxa have traditionally been placed in the single species Semnopithecus entellus...

. Small prey species such as porcupine
Porcupine
Porcupines are rodents with a coat of sharp spines, or quills, that defend or camouflage them from predators. They are indigenous to the Americas, southern Asia, and Africa. Porcupines are the third largest of the rodents, behind the capybara and the beaver. Most porcupines are about long, with...

s, hare
Hare
Hares and jackrabbits are leporids belonging to the genus Lepus. Hares less than one year old are called leverets. Four species commonly known as types of hare are classified outside of Lepus: the hispid hare , and three species known as red rock hares .Hares are very fast-moving...

s and peafowl
Peafowl
Peafowl are two Asiatic species of flying birds in the genus Pavo of the pheasant family, Phasianidae, best known for the male's extravagant eye-spotted tail, which it displays as part of courtship. The male is called a peacock, the female a peahen, and the offspring peachicks. The adult female...

 form a very small part in their diet. Due to the encroachment of humans into their habitat, they also prey on domestic livestock.

In most cases, tigers approach their victim from the side or behind from as close a distance as possible and grasp the prey's throat to kill it. Then they drag the carcass into cover, occasionally over several hundred meters, to consume it. The nature of the tiger's hunting method and prey availability results in a "feast or famine" feeding style: they often consume 18–40 kg (39.7–88.2 lb) of meat at one time.

Bengal tigers have been known to take other predators, such as leopards
Indian leopard
The Indian leopard is a leopard subspecies widely distributed on the Indian subcontinent. It is one of the five big cats found in India, apart from Asiatic lion, Bengal tiger, snow leopard and clouded leopard....

, wolves
Indian Wolf
Indian wolf and Iranian Wolf are two common names for Canis lupus pallipes, a subspecies of grey wolf which inhabits western India, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and southern Israel. Some experts have suggested at least some C. lupus pallipes populations be re-classified a canid species...

, jackal
Indian Jackal
The Indian Jackal , also known as the Himalayan Jackal is a subspecies of golden jackal native to India, Bhutan, Burma and Nepal. Its karyotype is quite different from that of its Eurasian and African counterparts .-Description:Its fur is a mixture of black and white, with buff on the shoulders,...

s, fox
Fox
Fox is a common name for many species of omnivorous mammals belonging to the Canidae family. Foxes are small to medium-sized canids , characterized by possessing a long narrow snout, and a bushy tail .Members of about 37 species are referred to as foxes, of which only 12 species actually belong to...

es, crocodile
Crocodile
A crocodile is any species belonging to the family Crocodylidae . The term can also be used more loosely to include all extant members of the order Crocodilia: i.e...

s, Asiatic black bear
Asiatic Black Bear
The Asian black bear , also known as the moon bear or white-chested bear is a medium-sized species of bear, largely adapted for arboreal life, which occurs through much of southern Asia, Korea, northeastern China, the Russian far east and Honshū and Shikoku islands of Japan...

s, sloth bear
Sloth Bear
The sloth bear , also known as the labiated bear, is a nocturnal insectivorous species of bear found wild within the Indian subcontinent. The sloth bear evolved from ancestral brown bears during the Pleistocene and shares features found in insect-eating mammals through convergent evolution...

s, and dhole
Dhole
The dhole is a species of canid native to South and Southeast Asia. It is the only extant member of the genus Cuon, which differs from Canis by the reduced number of molars and greater number of teats...

s as prey, although these predators are not typically a part of their 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
Jim Corbett (hunter)
Edward James "Jim" Corbett was a British hunter, conservationist, author and naturalist, famous for slaying a large number of man-eating tigers and leopards in India....

 described an incident in which two tigers fought and killed a large bull elephant. If injured, old or weak, or their normal prey is becoming scarce, they may even attack humans and become man-eater
Man-eater
Man-eater is a colloquial term for an animal that preys upon humans. This does not include scavenging. Although human beings can be attacked by many kinds of animals, man-eaters are those that have incorporated human flesh into their usual diet...

s.

Reproduction and lifecycle



The tiger in India has no definite mating and birth seasons. Most young are born in December and April. Young have also been found in March, May, October and November. In the 1960s, certain aspects of tiger behaviour at Kanha National Park indicated that the peak of sexual activity was from November to about February, with some mating probably occurring throughout the year.

Males reach maturity at 4–5 years of age, and females at 3–4 years. A tigress comes into heat at intervals of about 3–9 weeks, and is receptive for 3–6 days. After a gestation period of 104–106 days, 1–4 cubs are born in a shelter situated in tall grass, thick bush or in caves. Newborn cubs weigh 780 to 1600 g (1.7 to 3.5 lb) and they have a thick wooly fur that is shed after 3.5–5 months. Their eyes and ears are closed. Their milk teeth start to erupt at about 2–3 weeks after birth, and are slowly replaced by permanent dentition from 8.5–9.5 weeks of age onwards. They suckle for 3–6 months, and begin to eat small amounts of solid food at about 2 months of age. At this time, they follow their mother on her hunting expeditions and begin to take part in hunting at 5–6 months of age. At the age of 2–3 years, they slowly start to separate from the family group and become transient — looking out for an area, where they can establish their own territory. Young males move further away from their mother's territory than young females. Once the family group has split, the mother comes into heat again.

Threats



Over the past century tiger numbers have fallen dramatically, with a decreasing population trend. None of the Tiger Conservation Landscapes within the Bengal tiger range is large enough to support an effective population size of 250 individuals. Habitat losses and the extremely large-scale incidences of poaching
Poaching
Poaching is the illegal taking of wild plants or animals contrary to local and international conservation and wildlife management laws. Violations of hunting laws and regulations are normally punishable by law and, collectively, such violations are known as poaching.It may be illegal and in...

 are serious threats to the species' survival.

The most significant immediate threat to the existence of wild tiger populations is the illegal trade in poached skins and body parts
Poaching
Poaching is the illegal taking of wild plants or animals contrary to local and international conservation and wildlife management laws. Violations of hunting laws and regulations are normally punishable by law and, collectively, such violations are known as poaching.It may be illegal and in...

 between India, Nepal and China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

. The governments of these countries have failed to implement adequate enforcement response, and wildlife crime remained a low priority in terms of political commitment and investment for years. There are well-organised gangs of professional poachers, who move from place to place and set up camp in vulnerable areas. Skins are rough-cured in the field and handed over to dealers, who send them for further treatment to Indian tanning
Tanning
Tanning is the making of leather from the skins of animals which does not easily decompose. Traditionally, tanning used tannin, an acidic chemical compound from which the tanning process draws its name . Coloring may occur during tanning...

 centres. Buyers choose the skins from dealers or tanneries and smuggle them through a complex interlinking network to markets outside India, mainly in China. Other factors contributing to their loss are urbanization
Urbanization
Urbanization, urbanisation or urban drift is the physical growth of urban areas as a result of global change. The United Nations projected that half of the world's population would live in urban areas at the end of 2008....

 and revenge killing. Farmers blame tigers for killing cattle and shoot them. Their skins and body parts may however become a part of the illegal trade.

The illicit demand for bones and body parts from wild tigers for use in Traditional Chinese medicine is the reason for the unrelenting poaching pressure on tigers on the Indian subcontinent. For at least a thousand years, tiger bones have been an ingredient in traditional medicines that are prescribed as a muscle strengthener and treatment for rheumatism
Rheumatism
Rheumatism or rheumatic disorder is a non-specific term for medical problems affecting the joints and connective tissue. The study of, and therapeutic interventions in, such disorders is called rheumatology.-Terminology:...

 and body pain.

Between 1994 and 2009, the Wildlife Protection Society of India
Wildlife Protection Society of India
The Wildlife Protection Society Of India was founded in 1994 by Belinda Wright, its Executive Director, who was an award-winning wildlife photographer and filmmaker till she took up the cause of conservation. From its inception, WPSI's main aim has been to bring a new focus to the daunting task of...

 has documented 893 cases of tigers killed in India, which is just a fraction of the actual poaching and trade in tiger parts during those years. In 2006, India's Sariska Tiger Reserve
Sariska Tiger Reserve
The Sariska Tiger Reserve is a national park in India located in the Alwar district of the state of Rajasthan. The topography of Sariska supports scrub-thorn arid forests, dry deciduous forests, rocks and grasses. This area was a hunting preserve of the erstwhile Alwar state and it was declared a...

 lost all of its 26 tigers, mostly to poaching
Poaching
Poaching is the illegal taking of wild plants or animals contrary to local and international conservation and wildlife management laws. Violations of hunting laws and regulations are normally punishable by law and, collectively, such violations are known as poaching.It may be illegal and in...

. In 2007, police in Allahabad
Allahabad
Allahabad , or Settled by God in Persian, is a major city of India and is one of the main holy cities of Hinduism. It was renamed by the Mughals from the ancient name of Prayaga , and is by some accounts the second-oldest city in India. It is located in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh,...

 raided a meeting of suspected poachers, traders and couriers. One of the arrested persons was the biggest buyer of tiger parts in India who used to sell them off to the Chinese traditional medicinal market, using women from a nomadic tribe as couriers. In 2009, none of the 24 tigers residing in the Panna Tiger Reserve were left due to excessive poaching.

The challenge in the Western Ghats forest complex in western South India
South India
South India is the area encompassing India's states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu as well as the union territories of Lakshadweep and Pondicherry, occupying 19.31% of India's area...

, an area of 14400 mi2 stretching across several protected areas is that people literally live on top of the wildlife. The Save the Tiger Fund Council estimates that 7,500 landless people live illegally inside the boundaries of the 386 square miles (999.7 km²) Nagarhole National Park
Nagarhole National Park
Nagarhole National Park , also known as "Rajiv Gandhi National Park", is located from Mysore in Karnataka in South India. It is spread between Kodagu district and Mysore district. Located to the north-west of Bandipur National Park, Kabini reservoir separates the two. The park has rich forest...

 in southwestern India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

. A voluntary if controversial resettlement is underway with the aid of the Karnataka Tiger Conservation Project led by K. Ullas Karanth of the Wildlife Conservation Society.

A 2007 report by UNESCO, "Case Studies on Climate Change and World Heritage" has stated that an anthropogenic 45-cm rise in sea level, likely by the end of the 21st century, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a scientific intergovernmental body which provides comprehensive assessments of current scientific, technical and socio-economic information worldwide about the risk of climate change caused by human activity, its potential environmental and...

, combined with other forms of anthropogenic stress on the Sundarbans
Sundarbans
The Sundarbans [Sundarban Tour Booking-9051115228] is the largest single block of tidal halophytic mangrove forest in the world.The name Sundarban can be literally translated as "beautiful jungle" or "beautiful forest" in the Bengali language...

, could lead to the destruction of 75% of the Sundarbans mangroves.
The Forest Rights Act passed by the Indian government in 2006 grants some of India's most impoverished communities the right to own and live in the forests, which likely brings them into conflict with wildlife and under-resourced, under-trained, ill-equipped forest department staff. In the past, evidence showed that humans and tigers cannot co-exist.

Human-tiger conflict


The Indian subcontinent has served as a stage for intense human and tiger confrontations. The region affording habitat where tigers have achieved their highest densities is also one which has housed one of the most concentrated and rapidly expanding human populations. At the beginning of the 19th century tigers were so numerous it seemed to be a question as to whether man or tiger would survive. It became the official policy to encourage the killing of tigers as rapidly as possible, rewards being paid for their destruction in many localities. The United Provinces
United Provinces
United Provinces may refer to:* United Provinces, another name for the Dutch Republic , now The Netherlands* United Provinces of Agra and Oudh , a former province of British India; now Uttar Pradesh...

 supported large numbers of tigers in the submontane Terai
Terai
The Terai is a belt of marshy grasslands, savannas, and forests located south of the outer foothills of the Himalaya, the Siwalik Hills, and north of the Indo-Gangetic Plain of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and their tributaries. The Terai belongs to the Terai-Duar savanna and grasslands ecoregion...

 region, where man-eating had been uncommon. In the latter half of the 19th century, marauding tigers began to take a toll of human life. These animals were pushed into marginal habitat, where tigers had formerly not been known, or where they existed only in very low density, by an expanding population of more vigorous animals that occupied the prime habitat in the lowlands, where there was high prey density and good habitat for reproduction. The dispersers had no where else to go, since the prime habitat was bordered in the south by cultivation. They are thought to have followed back the herds of domestic livestock that wintered in the plains when they returned to the hills in the spring, and then being left without prey when the herds dispersed back to their respective villages. These tigers were the old, the young and the disabled. All suffered from some disability, mainly caused either by gunshot wounds or porcupine
Porcupine
Porcupines are rodents with a coat of sharp spines, or quills, that defend or camouflage them from predators. They are indigenous to the Americas, southern Asia, and Africa. Porcupines are the third largest of the rodents, behind the capybara and the beaver. Most porcupines are about long, with...

 quills.

In the Sundarbans
Sundarbans
The Sundarbans [Sundarban Tour Booking-9051115228] is the largest single block of tidal halophytic mangrove forest in the world.The name Sundarban can be literally translated as "beautiful jungle" or "beautiful forest" in the Bengali language...

, 10 out 13 man-eaters recorded in the 1970s were males, and they accounted for 86% of the victims. These man-eaters have been grouped into the confirmed or dedicated ones who go hunting especially for human prey; and the opportunistic ones, who do not search for humans but will, if they encounter a man, attack, kill and devour him. In areas where opportunistic man-eaters were found, the killing of humans was correlated with their availability, most victims being claimed during the honey
Honey
Honey is a sweet food made by bees using nectar from flowers. The variety produced by honey bees is the one most commonly referred to and is the type of honey collected by beekeepers and consumed by humans...

 gathering season. Tigers in the Sunderbans presumably attacked humans who entered their territories in search of wood, honey or fish, thus causing them to defend their territories. The number of tiger attacks on humans may be higher outside suitable areas for tigers, where numerous humans are present but which contain little wild prey for tigers.

In Nepal, the incidence of man-eating tigers has been only sporadic. In Chitwan National Park no cases have been recorded prior to 1980. In the following few years, 13 persons have been killed and eaten in the park and its environs. In the majority of cases, man-eating appeared to have been related to an intra-specific competition among male tigers.

Conservation efforts



An area of special interest lies in the Terai
Terai
The Terai is a belt of marshy grasslands, savannas, and forests located south of the outer foothills of the Himalaya, the Siwalik Hills, and north of the Indo-Gangetic Plain of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and their tributaries. The Terai belongs to the Terai-Duar savanna and grasslands ecoregion...

 Arc Landscape in the Himalayan foothills of northern India and southern Nepal, where 11 protected area
Protected area
Protected areas are locations which receive protection because of their recognised natural, ecological and/or cultural values. There are several kinds of protected areas, which vary by level of protection depending on the enabling laws of each country or the regulations of the international...

s comprising dry forest foothills and tall-grass savannas harbor tigers in a 49000 square kilometre landscape. The goals are to manage tigers as a single metapopulation
Metapopulation
A metapopulation consists of a group of spatially separated populations of the same species which interact at some level. The term metapopulation was coined by Richard Levins in 1970 to describe a model of population dynamics of insect pests in agricultural fields, but the idea has been most...

, the dispersal of which between core refuges can help maintain genetic, demographic, and ecological integrity, and to ensure that species and habitat conservation
Habitat conservation
Habitat conservation is a land management practice that seeks to conserve, protect and restore, habitat areas for wild plants and animals, especially conservation reliant species, and prevent their extinction, fragmentation or reduction in range...

 becomes mainstreamed into the rural development agenda. In Nepal a community-based tourism model has been developed with a strong emphasis on sharing benefits with local people and on the regeneration of degraded forests. The approach has been successful in reducing poaching, restoring habitats, and creating a local constituency for conservation.

In India




In 1972, Project Tiger
Project Tiger
Project Tiger was launched in 1972 in India. The project aims at ensuring a viable population of tigers in their natural habitats and preserving areas of biological importance as a natural heritage for the people. The selection of areas for the reserves represented as close as possible the...

 was launched aiming at ensuring a viable population of tigers in the country and preserving areas of biological importance as a natural heritage for the people. The project's task force visualized these tiger reserves as breeding nuclei, from which surplus animals would emigrate to adjacent forests. The selection of areas for the reserves represented as close as possible the diversity of ecosystem
Ecosystem
An ecosystem is a biological environment consisting of all the organisms living in a particular area, as well as all the nonliving , physical components of the environment with which the organisms interact, such as air, soil, water and sunlight....

s across the tiger's distribution in the country. Funds and committment were mustered to support the intensive program of habitat protection and rehabilitation under the project. By the late 1980s, the initial nine reserves covering an area of 9115 square kilometres (3,519.3 sq mi) had been increased to 15 reserves covering an area of 24700 square kilometres (9,536.7 sq mi). More than 1100 tigers were estimated to inhabit the reserves by 1984.

Through this initiative the population decline was reversed initially, but has resumed in recent years; India's tiger population decreased from 3,642 in the 1990s to just over 1,400 from 2002 to 2008.

The Indian Wildlife Protection Act of 1972
Wildlife Protection Act of 1972
The Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 refers to a sweeping package of legislation enacted in 1972 by the Government of India. Before 1972, India only had five designated national parks...

 enables government agencies to take strict measures so as to ensure the conservation of the Bengal tigers. The Wildlife Institute of India
Wildlife Institute of India
The Wildlife Institute of India is a autonomous institution under the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India.WII carries out wildlife research in areas of study like Biodiversity, Endangered Species, Wildlife Policy, Wildlife Management, Wildlife Forensics, Spatial Modeling,...

 estimates showed that tiger numbers had fallen in Madhya Pradesh
Madhya Pradesh
Madhya Pradesh , often called the Heart of India, is a state in central India. Its capital is Bhopal and Indore is the largest city....

 by 61%, Maharashtra
Maharashtra
Maharashtra is a state located in India. It is the second most populous after Uttar Pradesh and third largest state by area in India...

 by 57%, and Rajasthan
Rajasthan
Rājasthān the land of Rajasthanis, , is the largest state of the Republic of India by area. It is located in the northwest of India. It encompasses most of the area of the large, inhospitable Great Indian Desert , which has an edge paralleling the Sutlej-Indus river valley along its border with...

 by 40%. The government's first tiger census, conducted under the Project Tiger initiative begun in 1973, counted 1,827 tigers in the country that year. Using that methodology, the government observed a steady population increase, reaching 3,700 tigers in 2002. However, the use of more reliable and independent censusing technology (including camera trap
Camera trap
A camera trap is a remotely activated camera that is equipped with a motion sensor or an infrared sensor, or uses a light beam as a trigger. Camera trapping is a method for capturing wild animals on film when researchers are not present, and has been used in ecological research for decades...

s) for the 2007–2008 all-India census has shown that the numbers were in fact less than half than originally claimed by the Forest Department.

Following the revelation that only 1,411 Bengal tigers exist in the wild in India, down from 3,600 in 2003, the Indian government has decided to set up eight new tiger reserves.
Because of dwindling tiger numbers, the Indian government has pledged US$153 million to further fund the Project Tiger
Project Tiger
Project Tiger was launched in 1972 in India. The project aims at ensuring a viable population of tigers in their natural habitats and preserving areas of biological importance as a natural heritage for the people. The selection of areas for the reserves represented as close as possible the...

 initiative, set-up a Tiger Protection Force to combat poachers, and fund the relocation of up to 200,000 villagers to minimize human-tiger interaction.

Tiger scientists in India, such as Raghu Chundawat and Ullas Karanth, have faced criticism from the forest department. Both these scientists have been for years calling for use of technology in the conservation efforts. Chundawat, in the past, had been involved with radio telemetry (collaring the tigers). While studying tigers in Panna tiger reserve, he repeatedly warned the FD authorities about the problem of tiger poaching in the reserve; they remained in denial, producing bogus numbers of tigers in their reports, and banned Chundawat from the reserve. Eventually, however, it was proven he was right, as in 2008. the authorities admitted that all tigers in Panna have been poached. Karanth has been instrumental in using camera traps, radiotelemetry and prey counts. During the 1990s and early 2000s he also noticed that tiger numbers were significantly lower than the official figures; his insistence on using modern science in tiger conservation and uncompromising efforts to save tigers and their habitat have earned him many enemies.

The project to map all the forest reserves in India has not been completed yet, though the Ministry of Environment and Forests had sanctioned Rs. 13 million for the same in March 2004.

George Schaller
George Schaller
George Beals Schaller is an American mammalogist, naturalist, conservationist and author. Schaller is recognized by many as the world's preeminent field biologist, studying wildlife throughout Africa, Asia and South America. Born in Berlin, Schaller grew up in Germany, but moved to Missouri as a...

 wrote:

"India has to decide whether it wants to keep the tiger or not. It has to decide if it is worthwhile to keep its National Symbol, its icon, representing wildlife. It has to decide if it wants to keep its natural heritage for future generations, a heritage more important than the cultural one, whether we speak of its temples, the Taj Mahal, or others, because once destroyed it cannot be replaced."

In January 2008, the Government of India launched a dedicated anti-poaching force composed of experts from Indian police, forest officials and various other environmental agencies. Indian officials successfully started a project to reintroduce the tigers into the Sariska reserve. The Ranthambore National Park
Ranthambore National Park
Ranthambore National Park or Ranthambhore National Park or simply Ranthambhore is one of the largest national parks in northern India. It is situated in Sawai Madhopur district of southeastern Rajasthan, about 180 km south east of Jaipur, which is also the nearest airport...

 is often cited as a major success by Indian officials against poaching.

In Bangladesh


The Sundarbans tiger project
Sundarbans tiger project
The Sundarban Tiger project is a Bangladesh Forest Department initiative that effectively started its field activities in February 2005. The idea for creating such a project was first developed during a field survey in 2001 conducted by Md. Osman Gani, Ishtiaq U. Ahmad, James L. D. Smith and K....

 is a Bangladesh Forest Department initiative that started its field activities in February 2005. The idea for creating such a project was first developed during a field survey in 2001, conducted by Md. Osman Gani, Ishtiaq U. Ahmad, James L. D. Smith and K. Ullas Karanth. They realized that the Sundarbans mangrove forest at the mouth of the Ganges River
Ganges River
The Ganges or Ganga, , is a trans-boundary river of India and Bangladesh. The river rises in the western Himalayas in the Indian state of Uttarakhand, and flows south and east through the Gangetic Plain of North India into Bangladesh, where it empties into the Bay of Bengal. By discharge it...

 contained probably one of the largest populations of wild tigers left in the world. As such, there was an urgent need to start measures that would ensure the protection of this precious area. The Save the Tiger Fund and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service generously donated funds to support the initial phase of research that aimed to collect data on tiger ecology using telemetry, and study the tiger’s environment by assessing its habitat and prey.
But management of a wilderness area needs more than just information on the species to be protected. Personnel with skills and resources to implement conservation strategies, and the general support of the country are also required. So from the research base, the project is evolving rapidly to also encompass capacity building and conservation awareness activities. It has been able to do so through the forward thinking approach to management taken by the Forest Department, and the incredible support of the Bangladeshi people.
The project is administered by the Forest Department. At the field level, there is a team of 8 persons, made up of Forest Department personnel and one wildlife consultant from the University of Minnesota who advises on research strategies and trains staff.

In Nepal


The government aims at doubling the country's tiger population by 2022, and in May 2010, decided to establish Banke National Park
Banke National Park
Banke National Park is located in the Mid-Western Region, Nepal and was established in May 2010 as Nepal’s tenth national park, covering an area of 550 km2 with most parts falling on the Churia range....

 with a protected area of 550 square kilometres (212.4 sq mi), which bears good potential for tiger habitat.

Ex situ


Bengal tigers have been captive bred since 1880 and widely crossed with other tiger subspecies. Indian zoos have bred tigers for the first time being at the Alipore Zoo in Kolkata
Kolkata
Kolkata , formerly known as Calcutta, is the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal. Located on the east bank of the Hooghly River, it was the commercial capital of East India...

. The 1997 International Tiger Studbook lists the global captive
Captivity (animal)
Animals that live under human care are in captivity. Captivity can be used as a generalizing term to describe the keeping of either domesticated animals or wild animals. This may include for example farms, private homes and zoos...

 population
Population
A population is all the organisms that both belong to the same group or species and live in the same geographical area. The area that is used to define a sexual population is such that inter-breeding is possible between any pair within the area and more probable than cross-breeding with individuals...

 of Bengal tigers at 210 individuals that are all kept in Indian zoos, except for one female in North America. Completion of the Indian Bengal Tiger Studbook is a necessary prerequisite to establishing a captive management program for tigers in India.

Admixed genetic heritage


In the late 1990s, microsatellite
Microsatellite
Microsatellites, also known as Simple Sequence Repeats or short tandem repeats , are repeating sequences of 2-6 base pairs of DNA....

 analysis was used to identify hybrids of Indian and Siberian tigers through polymerase chain reaction
Polymerase chain reaction
The polymerase chain reaction is a scientific technique in molecular biology to amplify a single or a few copies of a piece of DNA across several orders of magnitude, generating thousands to millions of copies of a particular DNA sequence....

 amplification of hair samples. The study revealed that two tigers of the wild population of Dudhwa National Park
Dudhwa National Park
Dudhwa National Park is located in the Terai of Uttar Pradesh, India and covers an area of 680 km2 with a buffer area of almost 190 km2. In altitude it ranges from about to . The international border with Nepal forms the northern boundary, and the River Suheli the southern boundary. Its...

 had allele
Allele
An allele is one of two or more forms of a gene or a genetic locus . "Allel" is an abbreviation of allelomorph. Sometimes, different alleles can result in different observable phenotypic traits, such as different pigmentation...

s contributed by both subspecies. Both tigers had an Indian tiger mitochondrial haplotype
Haplotype
A haplotype in genetics is a combination of alleles at adjacent locations on the chromosome that are transmitted together...

 indicating that these animals had an Indian tiger mother.

In July 1976, Billy Arjan Singh
Billy Arjan Singh
Kunwar "Billy" Arjan Singh was an Indian hunter turned conservationist and author. He was the first who tried to reintroduce tigers and leopards from captivity into the wild....

 acquired a hand-reared tigress from Twycross Zoo
Twycross Zoo
Twycross Zoo is an zoo near the village of Twycross in Leicestershire, close to the border of Warwickshire . The zoo claims the largest collections of monkeys and apes in the World, and in 2006 re-launched itself as "Twycross Zoo – The World Primate Centre."The zoo attracts around 500,000 visitors...

 in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, and reintroduced
Reintroduction
Reintroduction is the deliberate release of a species into the wild in zones formerly inhabited by said species but where it has disappeared from for a number of reasons, from captivity or relocated from other areas where the species still survives in...

 her to the wild in Dudhwa National Park with the permission of India's then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi
Indira Gandhi
Indira Priyadarshini Gandhara was an Indian politician who served as the third Prime Minister of India for three consecutive terms and a fourth term . She was assassinated by Sikh extremists...

. In the 1990s, some tigers from this area were observed to have the typical appearance of Siberian tigers: white complexion, pale fur, large head and wide stripes. It was later proved that the tigress was a hybrid Siberian-Bengal tigress. Dudhwa tigers constitute about 1% of India's total wild population, but the possibility exists of this admixed genetic heritage being passed on to other tiger populations and jeopardizing the Bengal tiger as a distinct subspecies.

"Re-wilding" project in South Africa


In 2000, the Bengal tiger re-wilding project Tiger Canyons was started by John Varty
John Varty
John Varty is a controversial South African wildlife filmmaker who has made more than 30 documentaries and one feature film. Varty is also leading a controversial project which aims to create a free-ranging, self-sustaining tiger population outside of Asia...

, who together with the zoologist Dave Salmoni
Dave Salmoni
Dave Salmoni is a Canadian animal trainer, entertainer and television producer. He has his own production company, Triosphere, which is based in South Africa and specializes in wildlife films.-Personal life:...

 trained captive-bred tiger cubs how to stalk, hunt, associate hunting with food and regain their predatory instincts. They claimed that once the tigers proved that they can sustain themselves in the wild, they would be released into a free-range sanctuary of South-Africa to fend for themselves.

The project has received controversy after accusations by their investors and conservationists of manipulating the behavior of the tigers for the purpose of a film production, Living with Tigers, with the tigers believed to be unable to hunt. Stuart Bray, who had originally invested a large sum of money in the project, claimed that he and his wife, Li Quan, watched the film crew "[chase] the prey up against the fence and into the path of the tigers just for the sake of dramatic footage."

The four tigers involved in this project have been confirmed to be crossbred Siberian–Bengal tigers, which should neither be used for breeding nor being released into the Karoo
Karoo
The Karoo is a semi-desert region of South Africa. It has two main sub-regions - the Great Karoo in the north and the Little Karoo in the south. The 'High' Karoo is one of the distinct physiographic provinces of the larger South African Platform division.-Great Karoo:The Great Karoo has an area of...

, which for them is unsuitable habitat. Tigers that are not genetically pure will not be able to participate in the tiger Species Survival Plan
Species Survival Plan
The American Species Survival Plan or SSP program was developed in 1981 by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to help ensure the survival of selected species in zoos and aquariums, most of which are threatened or endangered in the wild....

, as they are not used for breeding, and are not allowed to be released into the wild.

In the USA


In October 2011, 18 Bengal tigers were among the exotic animals shot by the local sheriff's department after the 2011 Ohio exotic animal release
2011 Ohio exotic animal release
On October 18, 2011, near the Muskingum County Animal Farm preserve in Zanesville, Ohio, owner Terry Thompson was purported to have set his 56 exotic animals free before committing suicide. Of the 56 exotic animals, 48 were killed by the local police. The animals freed included lions, leopards,...

.

In culture


The tiger is one of the animals displayed on the Pashupati seal of the Indus Valley Civilisation. The tiger crest is the emblem on the Chola
Chola Dynasty
The Chola dynasty was a Tamil dynasty which was one of the longest-ruling in some parts of southern India. The earliest datable references to this Tamil dynasty are in inscriptions from the 3rd century BC left by Asoka, of Maurya Empire; the dynasty continued to govern over varying territory until...

 coins. The seals of several Chola copper coins show the tiger, the Pandya emblem fish and the Chera
Chera dynasty
Chera Dynasty in South India is one of the most ancient ruling dynasties in India. Together with the Cholas and the Pandyas, they formed the three principle warring Iron Age Tamil kingdoms in southern India...

 emblem bow, indicating that the Cholas had achieved political supremacy over the latter two dynasties. Gold coins found in Kavilayadavalli in the Nellore district
Nellore district
Sri Amarajeevi Potti Sri Ramulu Nellore District is one of the 23 districts of Andhra Pradesh. Nellore is famous for high paddy field, and so it got its name from "Nelli". The population of the district was 2,966,082 of which 22.45% were urban as of 2011....

 of Andra Pradesh have motifs of the tiger, bow and some indistinct marks.

Today, the Bengal tiger is the national animal of Bangladesh and India.
  • The logo of Bangladesh Cricket Board
    Bangladesh Cricket Board
    Bangladesh Cricket Board , previously known as the Bangladesh Cricket Control Board, is the main governing body of cricket in Bangladesh. The Board has its headquarters in Dhaka, it is responsible for the operation and development of cricket, maintenance of of venues, and selection for the...

     features a Royal Bengal Tiger.
  • Cincinnati's National Football League
    National Football League
    The National Football League is the highest level of professional American football in the United States, and is considered the top professional American football league in the world. It was formed by eleven teams in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association, with the league changing...

     team is named the Cincinnati Bengals
    Cincinnati Bengals
    The Cincinnati Bengals are a professional football team based in Cincinnati, Ohio. They are members of the AFC's North Division in the National Football League . The Bengals began play in 1968 as an expansion team in the American Football League , and joined the NFL in 1970 in the AFL-NFL...

    .
  • The Detroit's MLB team Detroit Tigers
    Detroit Tigers
    The Detroit Tigers are a Major League Baseball team located in Detroit, Michigan. One of the American League's eight charter franchises, the club was founded in Detroit in as part of the Western League. The Tigers have won four World Series championships and have won the American League pennant...

     are nicknamed the Bengals.
  • Dominican Republic's most successful baseball team Licey Tigers are nicknamed the Bengals.
  • The team from Kolkata
    Kolkata
    Kolkata , formerly known as Calcutta, is the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal. Located on the east bank of the Hooghly River, it was the commercial capital of East India...

     in the Indian Cricket League
    Indian Cricket League
    The Indian Cricket League was a private cricket league funded by Zee Entertainment Enterprises that operated between 2007 and 2009 in India...

     is called the Royal Bengal Tigers.
  • Louisiana State University
    Louisiana State University
    Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College, most often referred to as Louisiana State University, or LSU, is a public coeducational university located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The University was founded in 1853 in what is now known as Pineville, Louisiana, under the name...

    's Tigers are nicknamed the Bayou Bengals.

External links