|Scientific Name||Panthera tigris tigris (Linnaeus, 1758)|
Tigers are monogamous. The period of gestation is about 14 to 15 weeks, and from 2 to 5 young, and occasionally it is said even 6, are produced at one time. There is no particular season for breeding. Young cubs are found at all times of the year.
Adult males measure 5.5 to 6.5 feet from nose to insertion of tail, the tail being about 3 feet long. Females measure about 5 to 5.5 feet from nose to rump. The height at the shoulder is about 3 feet to 3 feet 6 inches.
The tiger is the largest of the "Big cats" with a reddish-orange to yellow-ochre coat, a white belly and black stripes. The stripes vary in their width, spacing and length and may be single or double.No two individuals exhibit the same stripe pattern. The chest, throat, muzzle and insides of its limbs are white or creamy and a white area above its eye, extending onto the cheeks. A white spot occurs behing the ear and the tail is ringed with dark bands. Colour variation is seen in the wild such as whitish tigers with chocolate stripes being seen. Young animals, are more brightly coloured than old. The young are born striped. Both black and albino tigers have been" met with, though both are very rare.
These animals are usually found solitary or in pairs, less frequently in parties of from three to six. They remain at rest during the day, and roam about at night in search of food. Their wanderings are considerable, and frequently extend to many miles in the course of the night, a preference being given to well-beaten
tracks or sandy beds of streams. It is a solitary and territorial creature, with males occupying a larger territory which overlaps that of several females with whom he will mate.
The tiger sometimes continues his stroll in the early morning, and his movements, as Forsyth remarks, "may often be traced up to eight or nine o'clock by the voices of monkeys and peafowl, the chatter of crows and small birds, and the bark of sambar and spotted deer." The tiger usually takes up his abode for the day in deep shade, especially in the hot season, and in general near water under a dense bush or tree, in high green grass, or in thick low cover such as green rushes, tamarisk, or some of the other plants that grow in the beds of streams.
The tigress is said to avoid the male when about to bring forth, and to hide her young from him ; but tigers are occasionally, though not often, seen accompanying tigresses and cubs. The young remain with the mother until nearly or quite full-grown ; and when more than two tigers are found consorting together, the party consists in general of a tigress and her full-grown offspring, the old tiger occasionally associating with his family also. The territory is marked with urine sprays and scrapes, onto trees, bushes and rock faces. Feaces and scrapes may also be left along trails. Mating occurs throughout the year. The gestation period is for four months and a normal litter size is two to three cubs.
It is an ambush predator and usually hunts by night, with the chief prey consisting of deers and wild pigs. Their usual call is very similar to that of the lion, a prolonged moaning, thrilling sound, repeated twice or thrice, becoming louder and quicker, and ending with three or four repetitions of the last portion of it. Besides this, there is a peculiar loud "woof" produced when the animal is disturbed or surprised, a growl that it utters when provoked, and the well-known guttural sound of rage repeated two or three times when it charges. Tigers swim well and take readily to water, but rarely ascend trees, and appear quite incapable of climbing a vertical stem, large or small. hey have a habit, like cats, of scratching wood, and often show a predilection for the trunk of a particular tree, on which the marks of their claws may be seen up to a height of 10 or, it is said, 12 feet.
The wild animals commonly eaten by tigers are pigs, deer of all kinds, nylgai, four-horned antelope, and porcupines. Peafowl may be slain at times and the same may be said of monkeys. Bears, though not often attacked, occasionally fall victims. Young gaur are occasionally killed, but the full-grown animal is more than a match for most tigers. Instances are said to have been known of even young elepliants being attacked, one such is mentioned by McMaster. In fact a hungry tiger will probably kill any other animal he can for food. He is said to have been observed catching and eating frogs ; and Mr. Simson found tigers in Eastern Bengal, during inundations, feeding upon fish, tortoises, crocodiles, and large lizards, and he once killed a tiger the pouch of which was crammed with grasshoppers or locusts.
If an animal is struck down in the daytime, the body may be dragged some distance, but is usually left untouched till evening. At or soon after nightfall, or occasionally in quiet places before sundown, the tiger returns to the kill and, if the spot is open or otherwise unsuited for his repast, drags the body to a more convenient place. He almost always commences by eating the intestines and hindquarters. As a rule he remains near the kill, sometimes rushing out upon any intruder and driving away jackals, vultures, and other carrion-feeders ; but more often he hides the carcase under bushes or leaves, and retires to a neigh-bouring thicket beside water. If very hungry, a tiger will devour both hindquarters the first night. If undisturbed, he generally remains about three days near the carcase, feeding at intervals. Although tigers as a rule kill their own food, they do not disdain carrion
Not unfrequently a high bank affords him the cool shade he loves, and in rocky parts of the country caves are frequently resorted to ; where ruins exist in jungle they are often a favourite abode. A well-known habit of all wild animals, but especially remarked in the case of the tiger, is the regularity with which paiticular haunts are selected in preference to others that appear equally well suited. Some one patch of high nul grass near the river-bank or on the edge of the swamp, one dense thicket of jhow (Tamarix) or jaman (Eagenia) amongst a dozen apparently similar in a stream-bed, one especial pile of rocks amongst hundreds along the hill-side, will be the resort year after year of a tiger, and when the occupant is shot, another, after a brief interval, takes his place.
Tigers, especially in the cold and wet seasons, when there is abundance of cover and water, are great wanderers, roaming from place to place, though probably keeping in general within an area of 15 or 20 miles in dianieter. In the hot season from March to June their range is usually more restricted, as vegetation is dried up or burnt except near the few spots where water is still found. it is true that they have been knovvn to take men out of trees, from heights it is said of even 18 or 20 feet ; but some cases are always due to some pecu-liarity in the tree, a sloping trunk, or a fork 8 or 10 feet from the ground, from which the animal can get a fresh start.
As a rule a tiger, like other mammals, pays no attention to men in a tree even a very few feet from the ground, if they do not move or speak. The half-wild inhabitants of the Indian forests have but little fear of ordinary tigers ; and after some 20 years' wanderings in large part through tracts infested with tigers, I agree with Forsyth that, except in the haunts of a man-eater, there is little danger in traversing any part of the jungles. Bears are, I think, more to be feared than tigers. The only tigers not being man-eaters that are dangerous are tigresses with young cubs, and occasionally a hungry tiger who has just killed his prey. Of course this only refers to unwounded tigers ; a tiger that has been wounded will usually attack any one who approaches him, but even he will not charge home against a body of men, and one successful method of shooting tigers and following them when wounded is founded on this circumstance.
The man-eater is, to quote Forsyth, "a tiger who has got very fat and heavy, or very old, or who has been disabled by a wound, or a tigress who has had to bring up young cubs where other game is scarce. All these take naturally to man, who is the easiest animal of all to kill, as soon as failure with other prey brings on the pangs of hunger." A tiger that has once taken to man-eating will probably, having got over his innate fear of the human species, con-tinue to live upon the same prey, though it is the exception for even man-eaters to confine themsehes to human food. Still a few do so to a great extent, and a fearful scourge such a tiger becomes.
Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered A2bcd+4bcd; C1+2a(i) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2011
Illegal trade and poaching; Conflict with humans.