Bengal Tigers

Bengal Tigers

“Tiger, tiger burning bright
in the forest of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?”
--William Blake

Such is the glory, mystique and charm of the royal Bengal Tiger that it has inspired poets, artists, painters, photographers and millions of admirers all over the world. Yet, sad to say, the Bengal Tiger is a dwindling species, barely able to cling on to the borderline of existence.

The largest member of the cat family, the tiger or the ‘Panthera Tigris’ is a graceful, solitary hunter. Bengal Tigers are found in India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China and Nepal. The latest census pegs their number at a mere 3,500. In the 1970s this number had reached an all time low of 1,200. But through concentrated efforts of NGOs and wild life sanctuaries, the Indian government managed to coax the numbers up and the tigers are carefully maintained in sanctuaries and zoos. An unfortunate fall out of the artificial environment in which these tigers are reared is that most tigers have lost their genetic purity. Tigers that are born and brought up in captivity show genetic variations. Therefore, if the trend continues, it is quite possible that the Bengal tiger as we know it today will be totally extinct in a few years’ time.

Among the Bengal tigers, the most favored, rare and exciting species are the white tigers. These are so rare that in about 100 years only 12 white tigers have been spotted in all of India. Neither a subspecies nor a cleverly crafted mix, the white tiger is pristine white with black stripes, as opposed to the regular tiger that has an orangish coat. The white tiger is generally the progeny of a Bengal tiger that has the special recessive gene that is necessary for the white coloring. Interestingly, the pure white tiger is free of even its characteristics stripes, though these are very very rare.

Poaching, felling of trees and hunting - these are the 3 main reasons that have led to the decline in tiger population. The Bengal tiger is also mistakenly seen as a man-eater, though habitually tigers do not eat human flesh. It is the shrinking of their wild life habitat that forces some tigers to desperation. The Bengal tigers, like all tigers are very strong, muscular and agile. They are excellent swimmers though they generally avoid climbing trees. Their favorite meal includes meat of deer, sambar, elk, elephant, moose and gaur. Tigers are not hard runners; they usually stalk their prey and pounce. Once they have killed a prey, the tigers revisit their dead prey for 3-5 feeds. After a heavy meal, tigers usually starve for several days.

The number of Bengal tiger cubs that are born naturally in the wild is steadily decreasing. A healthy litter usually consists of 4 cubs, out of which 2 survive into adulthood. The cubs are weaned by the time they reach 6 months of age. After this, they follow their mothers for about a year, during which period they learn to become competent hunters. The mother may throw out her cubs when she prepares for a new litter of cubs, after which these tigers move away from their original territory and establish their own.

The Bengal Tigers, killed as sport and entertainment from the heydays of the British Raj till recently, are grim reminders of how close humans have come to thwarting all other life forms on earth. Even the brilliant Bengal Tiger known for its strength of body and mind cannot hold its own against the brutality of man.

More info on big and small wild cats:

White Bengal Tigers
Royal Bengal Tigers
Bengal Tigers Facts
Jaguar Animal - Jaguar Cats
Black Jaguar (Animal)
Jaguar Animal Facts
Ocelot - Ocelot cat
Ocelot facts & Information
Siberian Tiger
White Siberian Tiger
Siberian Tiger Habitat
Siberian Tiger Fact
Siberian Tiger Information
Snow Leopard
Snow Leopard Habitat
Snow Leopard Fact
Endangered Snow Leopard
White Tigers
White Bengal Tigers
White Siberian Tigers
Baby White Tigers


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