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Bengal Tiger

The Bengal tiger or Royal Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) is a subspecies of tiger found in parts of India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, and Myanmar. It is the most common tiger subspecies, and lives in a variety of habitats. It lives in grasslands, subtropical and tropical rainforests, scrub forests, wet and dry deciduous forests and mangroves. Its fur is orange-brown with black stripes, although there are also white tigers. It is the national animal of both India and Bangladesh.

Physical characteristics

Male Bengal tigers measure around 5 to 6 feet in length (without their tail), and 8 to 10 feet with their tail. They weigh around 400 to 550 pounds (200 kg). A Bengal normally stands at around 3 feet (0.9 m) at the shoulder. They have a maximum skull length of around 10 to 15 inches (250 to 380 mm). An average male Bengal tiger living in the wild weighs in at about 490 pounds (220 kg). They stand 3 feet (1 m) tall; stretch about 9 feet (2.7 m) in length (head to tail).

Female Bengal tigers measure around 4 to 5 feet in length (without their tail), and 7 to 9 ft with their tail. They weigh around 250 to 450 pounds (110 to 200 kg). They stand about 2½ feet (75 cm) tall at the shoulder. They have a maximum skull length of about 8 to 12 inches long. An average female Bengal tiger living in the wild will weigh about 200 to 400 pounds (90 to 210 kg), stand 2½ feet tall, and stretch about 8 feet (2.4 m) in length {head to tail}.

Bengal tigers have the longest canine teeth, of any living big cat. They average approximately 3 to 4 inches. A canine of Bengal Tiger is larger and longer than that of other of its similar-sized cousins like lions or jaguars. Bengal Tigers have been noted for their sheer power. The Bengal Tiger has been able to drag something 5 times its own weight.

Diet

In the wild, Bengal Tigers are pure carnivores and hunt medium-sized and large-sized animals. These animals include rabbits, water buffalo, deer, goats, wild boar and gaur. They are also known to prey on peacocks and can climb trees to hunt Primates. Bengal Tigers have also been known to prey on young Asian Elephants and Rhino calves. Typically, Bengal Tigers do not prey on adult Elephants or Rhinos but one such case has been documented. Bengal Tigers have also been known to take other predators such as Leopards, Wolves, Crocodiles and Dholes as prey. These predators are not typically a part of the Bengal’s diet. Bengal Tigers prefer to hunt mostly by night. During the day, the cover of the tall “Elephant Grass” gives the feline excellent camouflage. Bengals kill prey by overpowering their victim and severing the Spinal Cord (preferred method for smaller prey), or applying a suffocation bite of the neck for large prey. A Bengal Tiger will usually drag its kill to a safe place to eat. Despite their size, Bengal Tigers can climb trees effectively, but they are not as adept as the smaller Leopard. Bengal Tigers are also adept and frequent swimmers. They often ambushing, drinking or swimming prey or chasing after prey that has retreated into water. The Bengal tiger can consume up to about 40 lb (18 kg) of meat at a time and then go without eating for days. Tigers have been blamed for eating cattle and people. When people hunt and harm tigers, they become too ‘lame’ to hunt their normal prey so they resort to whatever that will keep them alive. Only 3 of every 1000 tigers will kill and/or eat humans.

Threats

Habitat loss and poaching are important threats to species survival. Poachers kill tigers not only for their pelts, but also for components to make various traditional East Asia medicines. Other factors contributing to their loss are Urbanization and revenge killing. Farmers blame tigers for killing cattle. Poachers also kill tigers for their bones and teeth to make medicines that are alleged to provide the tiger’s strength.

Habitat

The Bengal Tiger is now strictly protected, and is the national animal of both Bangladesh and India. After the resounding success of the Tiger Conservation Program in India known as Project Tiger, the population of wild Tigers has increased dramatically. The Tiger population of India has reached about 3,500, up from 1,200 in the 1970s. In the Sundarbans, a 2004 census found the presence of about 280 Tigers on the Bangladesh side. But from the late 80′s and the early 90′s the Tiger population has suffered a setback due to Habitat destruction and the large scale poaching of these animals for their skins and bones. The Indian government is trying hard to show the world that the tiger is thriving in India.

Bengal Tiger


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