About Tigers II

Bengal Tiger
Most tigers live in forests or grasslands, for which their camouflage is ideally suited, and where it is easy to hunt prey that is faster or more agile. Among the big cats, only the tiger and  jaguar are strong swimmers; tigers are often found bathing in ponds, lakes, and rivers. Tigers hunt alone and eat primarily
medium to large sized herbivores such as deer, wild pigs, and buffalo. However, they also take smaller prey on occasion. Humans are the tiger's only serious predator, who often kill tigers illegally for their fur. Also, their bones and nearly all body parts are used in traditional Chinese medicine for a range of purported uses including pain killers and aphrodisiacs. Poaching for fur and destruction of habitat have greatly reduced tiger populations in the wild. A century ago, there were approximately over 100,000 tigers in the world; now numbers are down to only around 5,000. All subspecies of tigers have been placed on the endangered species list.

Physical traits

Tigers are the largest and heaviest cats in the world Although different subspecies of tiger have different
characteristics, in general male tigers weigh between 180 and 320 kg (400 lb. and 700 lb.)
and females between 120 and 180 kg (264 lb and 400 lb). At an average, males are between 2.6 and 3.3 metres (8 feet 6
inches to 10 feet 8 inch) in length, and females are between 2.3 and 2.75 metres (7 ft 6 in and 9 ft) in
length. Of the living subspecies, Sumatran tigers are the
smallest, and Amur or Siberian Tigers are the largest.
The stripes of most tigers vary from brown or hay to pure black, although White tigers have far fewer apparent stripes. White tigers are not a separate sub-species; They are leucistic Indian
tigers. The form and density of stripes differs between
subspecies, but most tigers have in excess of 100 stripes. The now extinct Javan tiger may have had far more than this. The pattern of stripes is unique to each animal, and thus could potentially be used to identify individuals, much in the same way as fingerprints are used to identify people. This is not, however, a preferred method of identification, due to the
difficulty of recording the stripe pattern of a wild tiger. It seems likely that the function of stripes is camouflage, serving to hide these animals from their prey. Few large animals have colour vision as capable as that of humans, so the colour is not
as great of a problem as one might suppose. Tigers have a cluster of cones in their retina but it is believed that they are used more to enhance daytime vision than for colour vision. The stripe pattern is found on a tiger's skin and if you shaved one, you would find that its distinctive camouflage pattern would be preserved.
Several obscure references to various other tiger colors have also been found, including most notably the reference to the "blue" or slate-colored tiger.
Tigers' HAVE extremely strong jaws and sharp teeth
Tigers' extremely strong jaws and sharp
teeth make them superb predators

Hunting methods

Tigers often ambush their prey as other cats do, overpowering their prey from any angle, using their body size and strength to knock
prey off balance. Once prone, the tiger bites the back of the
neck, often breaking the prey's spinal cord, piercing the
windpipe, or severing the jugular vein or carotid artery. For
large prey, a bite to the throat is preferred. After biting, the
tiger then uses its muscled forelimbs to hold onto the prey,
bringing it to the ground. The tiger remains latched onto the
neck until its prey dies.
Powerful swimmers, tigers are known to kill prey while swimming. Some tigers have even ambushed boats for the fishermen on board or
their catches of fish.The majority of tigers never hunt humans except in desperation. Probably only 3 or 4 tigers out of every 1000 tigers kill a
person as prey in their lifetimes. The usual man-eater is an
injured or ill tiger which can no longer catch its usual prey
and must resort to a smaller, slower target. Like most other
large predators they generally recognize humans as unsuitable
prey because of the danger of being hunted by a predator (a
human possessing spears or firearms) even more dangerous. The
Sundarbans mangrove swamps of Bengal have had a higher incidence
of man-eaters, where some healthy tigers have been known to hunt
humans as prey.
In the wild, tigers can leap as high as 5 m and as far as 9-10 m, making them one of the highest-jumping mammals, perhaps second
only to the puma. They have been reported to carry domestic
livestock weighing 50 kg while easily jumping over fences 2 m
high. Their forelimbs, massive and heavily muscled, are used to
hold tightly onto the prey and to avoid being dislodged,
especially by large prey such as gaurs. A single tremendous blow
of the paw can kill a full-grown wolf or heavily injure a 150 kg
Sambar deer.

Biology and ecology

Adult tigers are solitary and fiercely territorial animals. A tigress may have a territory of 20 km² while the territories of males
are much larger, covering 60-100 km². Male territories may
overlap those of many females, but males are intolerant of other
males within their territory. Because of their aggressive
nature, territorial disputes are violent and often end in the
death of one of the males. To identify his territory the male
marks trees by spraying urine and anal gland secretions on trees
as well as by marking trails with scat. Males show a behavior
called flehmen, a grimacing face, when identifying the condition
of a female's reproductive condition by sniffing their urine
A female is only receptive for a few days and mating is frequent during that time period. A pair will copulate frequently and
noisily, like other cats. The gestation period is 103 days and
3-4 cubs of about 1 kg each are born. The females rear them
alone. Wandering male tigers may kill cubs to make the female
receptive. At 8 weeks, the cubs are ready to follow their mother
out of the den. The cubs become independent around 18 months of
age, but it is not until they are around 2-2 1/2 years old that
they leave their mother. The cubs reach sexual maturity by 3-4
years of age. The female tigers generally own territory near
their mother, while males tend to wander in search of territory,
which they acquire by fighting and eliminating a territorial
male. Over the course of her life, a female tiger will give
birth to an approximately equal number of male and female cubs.
Tigers breed well in captivity, and the captive population in
the United States may rival the wild population of the world.
Distribution of tigers map of Asia
Distribution of tigers
In the wild, tigers mostly feed on deer, wild boar, and wild cattle, including gaur and water buffaloes, young rhinos and
elephants, and sometimes, leopards and young bears. Siberian
tigers and brown bears are a serious threat to each other and
both tend to avoid each other. Statistically though, the
Siberian tiger has been the more successful in battles between
the two animals because bears taken by tigers are often smaller
sized bears, however tiger can and do kill larger brown bears.
Even female tigers, which are considerably smaller than male
tigers, are capable of taking down and killing adult gaurs by
themselves. Sambar, wild boar and gaur are the tiger's favoured
prey in India.
Young elephant and rhino calves are occasionally taken when they
are left unprotected by their herds. A case where a tiger killed
an adult female Indian rhino has been observed 
Tigers prefer large prey such as sambar, gaur and wild water buffalo because they provide more meat and last for many days, avoiding
the need for another hunt. In all of their range, tigers are the
top predators and do not compete with other carnivores other
than the dhole or Indian wild dog, which makes up for its
relative lack of strength by numbers. They do not attack large
animals such as adult elephants and rhinos, although they will
prey on their young whenever they have an opportunity. However,
a hungry tiger will attack anything it regards as potential
food, including humans. On land, tigers have been known to prey
on crocodiles 
Tigers have been studied in the wild using a variety of techniques. The populations of tigers were estimated in the past using plaster
casts of their pugmarks. In recent times, camera trapping has
been used instead. Newer techniques based on DNA
from their scat are also being evaluated. Radio collaring has
also been a popular approach to tracking them for study in the


There are nine subspecies of tiger, three of which are extinct and one of which is almost certain to become so in the near future.
Their historical range (severely diminished today) ran through
Russia, Siberia, Iran, Afghanistan, India, China and Southeast
Asia, including the Indonesian islands. The South China Tiger is
believed to be the first tiger. These are the surviving
subspecies, in descending order of wild population:
Royal Bengal tiger
Royal Bengal tiger

  • The Bengal tiger or the Royal Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) is found in parts of India, Nepal,
    Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar. It lives in varied habitats
    - grasslands, subtropical and tropical rainforests, scrub
    forests, wet and dry decidious forests and mangroves. The
    Indian government's estimated population figure for these
    tigers is between 3,100 and 4,500, 3,000 of which are found
    in India alone. However, many Indian tiger conservationists
    doubt this number, seeing it as overly optimistic. The
    number of Bengal tigers in India may be lower than 2000, as
    most of the collected statistics are based on pugmark
    identification, which often gives a biased result. Even
    though this is the most 'common' tiger, these tigers are
    under severe pressure from both habitat destruction and
    poaching. In 1972, India launched a massive wildlife
    conservation project, known as Project Tiger, to protect the
    depleting numbers of tigers in India. The project helped
    increase the population of these tigers from 1,200 in the
    1970s to 3,000 in the 1990s and is considered as one of the
    most successful wildlife conservation programs. Recently
    these numbers have been found to be cooked up; At least one
    Tiger Reserve (Sariska)has lost its entire tiger population
    to poaching [6].
    At an average, male Bengal tigers weigh approximately
    200-295 kg (440-650 lb) and females average between 140-160
    kg (310-350 lb). However, there are recorded instances of
    shot males that weighed more than 300 kg. One large male
    killed in Nepal in 1942 weighed 318 kg, while another,
    killed in 1910 in India, weighed 317 kg. The largest Bengal
    tiger ever shot was a male 3.3 m in total length and weighed
    closed to 390 kg (858 lb.); this feline giant was killed in

  • Indochinese tiger (Panthera tigris corbetti), also called Corbett's tiger, is found in Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand,
    and Vietnam. Estimates of its population vary between 1,200
    to 1,800, but it seems likely that the number is in the
    lower part of the range. The largest current population is
    in Malaysia, where illegal poaching is strictly controlled,
    but all existing populations are at extreme risk from
    habitat fragmentation and inbreeding. In Vietnam, almost
    three-quarters of the tigers killed provide stock for
    Chinese pharmacies. Also, the tigers are seen by poor
    natives as a resource through which they can ease poverty.
    Indochinese tigers are smaller and darker than Bengal
    tigers, and about the size of African lions. Males weigh
    from 150-190 kg on average while females are smaller at
    110-140 kg.

  • The Malayan tiger (Panthera tigris jacksoni), exclusively found in the southern (Malaysian) part of the
    Malay Peninsula, was not considered a subspecies in its own
    right until 2004. The new classification came
about after a study by Luo et al from the Laboratory of Genomic Diversity Study, part of the National Cancer Institute, US.
Recent counts showed there are 600-800 tigers in the wild,
making it the third largest tiger population behind the Bengal
tiger and the Indochinese tiger. The Malayan tiger is a national
icon in Malaysia, appearing on its coat of arms and in logos of
Malaysian institutions, such as Maybank.

  • The Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatran) is found only on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The wild
    population is estimated at between 400 and 500, seen
    predominantly in the island's five national parks. Recent
    genetic testing has revealed the presence of unique genetic
    markers, indicating that it may develop into a separate
    species, if it is not made extinct. This has led to
    suggestions that Sumatran tigers should have greater
    priority for conservation than any other subspecies. Habitat
    destruction is the main threat to the existing tiger
    population (logging continues even in the supposedly
    protected national parks), but 66 tigers were recorded as
    being shot and killed between 1998 and 2000, or nearly 20%
    of the total population. The Sumatran tiger is the smallest
    of all living tiger subspecies. Adult males weigh between
    100-130 kg, females 70-90 kg. Their small size is an
    adaptation to the thick, dense forests of the Sumatra island
    where they reside, as well as the smaller-sized prey.
Siberian tiger
Siberian tiger

  • The Siberian tiger (Panthera tigris altaica), also known as the Amur, Manchurian or North
    tiger, is confined almost completely to Siberia,
    where it is now protected. The last two censuses(1996 and
    2005) found 450-500 Siberian tigers within their single and
    more or less continuous range making it one of the biggest
    undivided tiger populations in the world. Considered the
    largest subspecies, the largest wild Siberian tiger on
    record weighed 384 kg (845 lb.), while a captive one weighed
    423 kg (930 lb.). Some Bengal tigers grow to the same length
    as Siberian tigers, but they are less stocky. Weights can
    vary substantially depending on whether the tiger has been
    fully fed or has an empty belly. The average weight of a
    male Siberian tiger is around 227 kg (500 lb.). The Siberian
    tiger is also noted for its thick coat, distinguished by a
    paler golden hue and a smaller number of stripes. The
    Siberian tiger is the largest and heaviest of all living
    felines. A six-month old Siberian tiger can be as big as a
    fully grown panther.

  • The South China tiger (Panthera tigris amoyensis), also known as the Amoy or Xiamen tiger, is the
    most critically endangered subspecies of tiger and will
    almost certainly become extinct. It is also considered to be
    the first of all tiger subspecies. This subspecies is one of
    the smallest tiger species. The length of the South China
    tiger ranges from 2.2-2.6 m (87-104 inches) for both males
    and females. Males weigh between 127 and 177 kg (280-390
    lb.) while females weigh between 100 and 118 kg (220-260
    lb.). It seems likely that the last known wild South China
    tiger was shot and killed in 1994, and no live tigers have
    been seen in their natural habitat for the last 20 years. In
    1977, the Chinese government reversed the law, and banned
    the killing of wild tigers, but this appears to have been
    too late to save the subspecies. There are currently 59
    known captive South China tigers, all within China, but
    these are known to be descended from only six animals. Thus,
    the genetic diversity required to maintain the subspecies no
    longer exists, making its eventual extinction very likely.

Extinct tiger subspecies

Tigers are uncommon in the fossil record. The distinct fossils of tigers were discovered in Pleistocene deposits – mostly in
Asia. Nevertheless, tiger fossils 100,000 years old have been
found in Alaska. Possibly because of a land bridge between
Siberia and Alaska during the ice ages, this Alaskan tiger might
be a North American population of Siberian tiger. In addition,
some scientists have discovered similarities between tiger bones
and those of the American lion, an extinct big cat that
dominated much of North America as recently as 10,000 years ago.
Some have used these observations to conclude that the American
lion was a New World tiger species.
Tiger fossils have also turned up in Japan. These fossils indicate that the Japanese tiger was no bigger than the island subspecies
of tigers of recent ages. This may be due to the phenomenon in
which body is related to environmental space, or in the case of
a large predator like a tiger, availability of prey.

  • The Balinese tiger (Panthera tigris balica) has always
    been limited to the island of Bali.
    These tigers were hunted to extinction – the last Balinese
    tiger is thought to have been killed at Sumbar Kima, West
    Bali on 27
    September 1937;
    this was an adult female. No Balinese tiger was ever held in
    captivity. The tiger still plays an important role in
    Balinese Hindu

  • The Javan tiger (Panthera tigris sondaica) was limited
    to the Indonesian island of Java.
    It now seems likely that this subspecies was made extinct in
    the 1980s,
    as a result of hunting and habitat destruction, but the
    extinction of this subspecies was extremely probable from
    the 1950s
    onwards (when it is thought that fewer than 25 tigers
    remained in the wild). The last specimen was sighted in 1979.

  • The Caspian tiger or Persian Tiger (Panthera tigris
    ) appears to have become extinct in the late 1960s,
    with the last reliable sighting in 1968,
    though it is thought that such a tiger was last shot dead in
    the south-eastern-most part of Turkey in 1970.
    Historically it ranged through Afghanistan, Iran,
    Iraq, Pakistan,
    the former Soviet
    and Turkey.
    This tiger was said to be yellow with black stripes. The
    Caspian tiger was one of two subspecies of tiger (along with
    the Bengal) that was used by the Romans to battle Roman
    Gladiators and other animals, including the Barbary
This, and the fact that the ichimaru gin fans out there will kill you all before they become extinct, just as not to harm the
legendary shinigami.
Sumatran Tiger
Sumatran Tiger

Traditional Asian medicine

Tiger parts are used in traditional Asian medicines. Many people in Asia believe that tiger parts have medicinal properties. There
is no scientific corroboration to these beliefs, which include:

  • The tail of the tiger is sometimes ground and mixed with soap to create an ointment for use in treating skin cancer.

  • The bones found in the tip of the tiger's tail are said to ward off evil spirits.

  • Crushed tiger bones added to wine serves as a Taiwanese general tonic.

  • Tiger's skin is said to cure a fever caused by ghosts. In order to use it effectively, the user must sit on the tiger's skin,
    but beware. If too much time is spent on the tiger's skin,
    legend says the user will become a tiger.

  • Adding honey to the gallstones and applying the combination to the hands and feet is said to effectively treat abscesses.

  • Burnt tiger hair can allegedly drive away centipedes.

  • Mixing the brain of a tiger with oil and rubbing the mixture on your body is
    an alleged cure for both laziness and acne.

  • Rolling the eyeballs into pills is an alleged remedy for convulsions.

  • If whiskers are kept as a charm, legend says one will be protected against bullets and have increased courage.

  • One will allegedly possess courage and shall be protected from sudden fright if you wear a tiger's claw as a piece of jewellery
    or carry one in your pocket.

  • Strength, cunning, and courage can allegedly be obtained by consuming a tiger's heart.

  • Floating ribs of a tiger are considered a good luck talisman.

  • The tiger's penis is said to be an aphrodisiac.

  • Small bones in a tiger's feet tied to a child's wrists are said to be a sure cure for convulsions. 

Tigers in literature and popular culture

The word "tiger" is borrowed from Greek "tigris", itself borrowed from Persian
American English "Tigress" was first recorded in 1611.
Tiger's-eyes "yellowish-brown quartz" is recorded from
The tiger has certainly managed to appeal to man's imagination. Both Rudyard
in The Jungle Book and William Blake in his Songs
of Experience
depict the tiger as a ferocious, fearful
animal. In The Jungle Book, the tiger Shere Khan is the
biggest and most dangerous enemy of Mowgli, the uncrowned king
of the jungle. Even in the Bill Watterson comic strip, Calvin
and Hobbes
, Hobbes the tiger sometimes escapes his role of
cuddly animal. At the other end of the scale there is Tigger,
the tiger from A. A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh stories, who is
always happy and never induces fear. In the award winning A
Tiger for Malgudi
, a Yogi befriends a tiger. Rajah, a pet of
the character Jasmine of Disney's animated feature film Aladdin,
is uncharacteristically dog-like in its behavior, but even more
oddly Tony the Tiger is renowned for his Frosted
and may be the only cat, real or fictional, who
thrives on a vegetarian diet.
A stylized tiger cub was a mascot of the 1988 Summer Olympic Games of Seoul with the name "Hodori", and the tiger is one
of the most chosen animals to be a mascot for sports teams, e.g.
Major League Baseball team Detroit Tigers
Humble Oil, a division of Standard Oil Company of New Jersey (Jersey Standard), used a stylized tiger to promote gasoline and the
slogan "Put a Tiger in your Tank". Jersey Standard
adopted the use of a real tiger in its advertising when it took
the Exxon name company-wide in 1972, and the brand kept the
tiger mascot as a part of ExxonMobil when they merged in 1999.
Most recently, Yann Martel won the Man Booker Prize in 2002 with
his novel Life of Pi about an Indian boy castaway on the
Pacific Ocean with a Royal Bengal Tiger. In the Chinese novel Water
, tigers appeared numerous times as attacking
travellers. In the Wu Song story he became famous when slaying
with his bare hands a tiger who had been terrorizing the local
towns nearly a decade. In reality, wild tigers, being dwellers
of the jungle, have rarely been found in larger human cities in
China, where the idea of a tiger on the street can act as a
symbol of paranoia or unfounded fear, giving rise to such idioms
as three men make a tiger. The Tiger is one of the 12
Chinese Zodiac animals.
A Tiger running in snow
A Tiger running in snow

Tiger as the national animal

The Tiger is the national animal of:

  • China, along with Dragon and Panda; the Tiger is the unofficial symbol

  • Bangladesh (Royal Bengal Tiger)

  • India (Royal Bengal Tiger)

  • Nepal (Royal Bengal Tiger)

  • North Korea (Siberian Tiger)

  • South Korea

  • Former Nazi Germany along with the black eagle (currently it is the
    black eagle (Bundesadler) (official) and leopard

  • Former USSR (Siberian Tiger) (currently it is the Bear and golden
    bicephalic eagle)


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