Floogle facts: The Bengal Tiger

Brad Frankel

Written by Frankie Paterson

The Bengal Tiger (Panthera tigris ssp. tigris)  probably arrived in the Indian subcontinent approximately 12,000 years ago. It occurs in India, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh. The IUCN Red List classifies this subspecies as endangered (EN) as of 2008. International conservation efforts have attempted to maintain the small and fragmented population from declining further.  The total subspecies population is estimated at 2,376 Tigers and no subpopulation is consists of more than 250 individuals.

bengal tiger

Taxonomic Classification:

Kingdom – Animalia

Phylum – Chordata

Class – Mammalia

Order – Carnivora

Family – Felidae

Average Lifespan in the wild: 8 to 10 years

Size: Head and body, 5 to 6 ft; tail, 2 to 3 ft

Weight: 110 – 220kg (approx.)

Extra info: http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/136899/0

bengal tiger

ADAPTATIONS – PHYSIOLOGY / ANATOMY

The tiger and his stripes: A tiger’s striped fur plays an important role in the survival of this predatory species. It helps them blend in with the sunlight filtering through the trees and onto the jungle floor and through the long grasses of the marsh lands. This camouflage breaks up their body shape, making it more difficult for prey to spot them.

Not only this, the adaptation for the Bengal tiger has more physical adaptations, like the soft pads on its paws which make it easier to silently creep up on prey and their retractable claws ensure their approach is almost silent!

Check out this video to see this in effect.

bengal tiger in water
HABITAT AND RANGE

Who said cats don’t like to swim!

In 2016 a team of field researchers used GPS-Satellite and VHF radio-collars on 6 tigers to study their ranging patterns and habitat preference near human settlements in the Sundarbans mangrove forest, one of the largest such forests in the world. The average home range for resident females was 56.4 and 100 km² for males. The team found that tigers spent over 58% of their time within Phoenix habitat but composition analysis showed a habitat preference of, in order; Avicennia-Sonneratia > Phoenix > Ceriops > Barren > Water. The average daily distance travelled by the tigers was 4.6 km. It was found that tiger activity in the area peaked between 05:00 hours and 10:00 hours this overlap with human activities such as washing or fishing.  

The team also found that tigers crossed an average of 5 water channels a day averaging 30 – 54 meters across. Channels larger than 400 meters were rarely crossed. This research helped local people understand the habits of their local wildlife and hopefully will ensure that the animal=human conflict in the area can be reduced as precautions can be taken and information passed on to other villages.

Journal: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0152119

Tiger

TIGER TRACKING – NEW RESEARCH METHODS

Could audio recordings be all that is needed to recognise and monitor tigers in the wild?!

Traditionally, tigers are tracked by following their pugmarks (prints) or with camera traps, Audio could also pick up on other noteworthy sounds, such as calls from nearby animals, chainsaws from illegal forestry or gunshots from poachers.

This new data may help scientists monitor tiger populations as well as direct threats.

Article: https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn28028-track-individual-tigers-just-by-listening-to-them-roar

tiger fight

TIGER FEEDING AND NUTRITION

It’s a cat-eat-cat world out there!

A tiger has been reported stalking and killing a lynx in Russia’s far east – this is the first time a lethal encounter like this has been documented. Great journal on the findings below!

Joural DOI: 10.1007/s10344-016-1007-z

tigris tigris

TIGER Hybridization and Hybrid Vigor

Ever heard of a liger? It’s the offspring of a male lion and female tiger. There’s also the tigon, which has a lion mother and tiger father. And the leopon, the progeny of a lion and a leopard.

Feline hybrids aren’t found in nature as far as we know. Although due to fragmented habitats species and subspecies have started moving further a field in search of prey and mates. For now, lions and tigers don’t overlap in the wild (except in India’s Gir Forest, where until now no ligers have been found). Big cats in the same territory don’t seem to cross the species line—they’re not interested in each other, just as humans aren’t drawn to chimps…

Hybrid vigor is the presentation of traits in offspring that make it stronger and bigger than either of its two parent species. Instead, these animals are the offspring of big cats that cross breed in captivity and have a much greater chance of the genetic defects, infertility along with other defects.

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