Interesting Tiger Facts
Interesting Tiger Facts:
The tiger (Panthera tigris) is an obligate carnivore that belongs to the genus Panthera in the family Felidae. The word “tiger” is derived from the Greek word “tigris”, which is possibly obtained from a Persian source meaning “arrow” (“arrow” refers to the animal’s speed). The tiger is native to much of eastern and southern Asia. It is an apex predator with great bulk and power.
The larger tiger subspecies reach up to a total length of 3.3 metres (11 feet) and weigh up to 300 kilograms (660 pounds) with canines growing up to 4 inches in length. The Siberian tiger is the largest tiger in the world.
In general, tigers are territorial and solitary. They require large areas of habitat that support their prey demands. This, along with the fact that they are indigenous to some of the more densely populated places on earth, has caused significant conflicts with humans. Tigers have a lifespan of 10–15 years in the wild, but can live longer than 20 years in captivity. They are highly adaptable. Their habitat ranges from the Siberian taiga to open grasslands and tropical mangrove swamps.
Wild tigers mostly feed on larger and medium sized animals. They occasionally prey on leopards, pythons, sloth bears and crocodiles. A tiger’s prey varies with its habitat. Like many predators, tigers are opportunistic in nature. They rarely feed on small animals. Adult elephants are too large for a tiger to serve as prey but tigers sometimes prey on elephants. A case where a tiger killed an adult Indian Rhinoceros has been observed. Young elephant and rhino calves are occasionally taken. Tigers also sometimes prey on domestic animals such as dogs, cows, horses, and donkeys.
Typically, tigers have rusty-reddish to brown-rusty coats, a whitish medial and ventral area, a white “fringe” that surrounds the face, and stripes that vary from brown or gray to pure black. The form and density of stripes varies between subspecies, but most tigers have over 100 stripes. The pattern of stripes is unique to each animal. These unique markings are used to identify individuals.
Poaching for fur and destruction of habitat have greatly reduced tiger populations in the wild. In the past, tigers were found throughout Asia, from the Caucasus and the Caspian Sea to Siberia and Indonesia. Today the range of the tiger is only 7% of what it used to be. Within the past decade alone, the estimated area known to be occupied by tigers has declined by 41%. During the 19th century, the tiger completely vanished from western Asia and became restricted to isolated pockets in the remaining parts of their range. Today, their range is fragmented, and certain parts degraded, and extends from India in the west to China and Southeast Asia in the east. The northern limit is close to the Amur River in south eastern Siberia. The only large island inhabited by tigers today is Sumatra. Tigers vanished from Java and Bali during the 20th century. In Borneo they are known only from fossil remains. At the start of the 20th century, it is estimated there were over 100,000 tigers in the world but the population has dwindled to between 1,500 and 3,500 in the wild.
Eventhough humans are not regular prey for tigers, tigers have preyed on more people than any other cat, particularly in areas where humans have put pressure on tiger habitats. Most man-eating tigers have been known to acquire a taste for humans because of their inability to capture preferred prey. Almost all tigers that are identified as man-eaters are immediately captured, shot, or poisoned. Man-eating tigers have a peculiar characteristic. They seldom enter human settlements, usually remaining at village outskirts. However, attacks in human villages do occur. Man-eaters have been a particular problem in India and Bangladesh, especially in Kumaon, Garhwal and the Sundarbans mangrove swamps of Bengal, where some healthy tigers have been known to hunt humans. Because of rapid habitat loss due to climate change, tiger attacks have increased in the Sundarbans.
The ferocious nature of tiger has made it one of the most recognisable and popular animal of the world. Tigers are seen appearing on many flags and coats of arms, as mascots for sporting teams, and as the national animal of several Asian nations, including India. In a poll conducted by Animal Planet, the tiger was voted the world’s favourite animal, narrowly beating the dog. More than 50,000 viewers from 73 countries voted in the poll. Tigers received 21% of the vote, dogs 20%, dolphins 13%, horses 10%, lions 9%, snakes 8%, followed by elephants, chimpanzees, orangutans and whales.