April 30, 2012

Bengal tigers in the wild

Zulu, the tiger who inspired us to start the sanctuary

Photo © 2010 Ashley Kershner

(Scientific name: Panthera tigris tigris)

 

In the Wild…Their Territory: Bengal tigers can be found in mangrove forests in parts of India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar and some parts of Nepal and Burma.

 

In captivity, tigers make a noise called a ‘chuff’ as a greeting when they are happy.  This is a gentile puffing sound tigers make by rapidly expelling air through their noses.  In the wild, they make this noise while communicating with other tigers, especially their mothers and siblings.  They remain with their mother for two years.

In the wild, a Bengal tiger can eat up to eighty pounds of meat in one night.  Since only one hunt in 20 is successful, they typically go without food for several days.  It takes about 5,500 pounds of meat a year to sustain a cat this large.

There are eight subspecies of tigers, three of them have become extinct since the 1940’s, and the remaining five are seriously endangered.  The subspecies with the greatest population is the Bengal – there are approximately 3,500 remaining.  Without proper protection, they too, are doomed for extinction.  Even today, more tigers die at the hands of man than through any other cause.

The average male Bengal tiger measures ten feet from nose to tail, stands three feet high at the shoulder and has a head that is ten inches wide.  A full-grown Bengal tiger weighs 450-550 pounds.  The female is generally about one foot shorter and 100 pounds lighter than the male.  Tigers can live up to 25 years.

Wild pigs and deer are the most common prey for tigers, but they are capable of hunting much larger animals.  They have the hauling power of thirty men and are capable of hauling off an animal as large as a buffalo or a young rhino, weighing up to 1000 pounds.

The Bengal tiger is native to temperate and topical Asia.  They inhabit the forests and mangrove swamps of India, Burma, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal.  Excellent swimmers, tigers are probably the most water-loving of felines.  Their orange coat with black stripes is the perfect camouflage in reeds and grass.

The Bengal is also known as the Royal Bengal Tiger or Indian Tiger. A male’s territory is about 20 square miles, whereas the females roam around about 17 square miles of habitat. Within their home, they usually have several dens that they alternate between.

The gestation period for females is about 3 months after which they give birth to 1 – 6 cubs. The cubs are nursed for about two weeks until their eyes open and their teeth begin to grow in. After about 6 months, the cubs venture out with their mother. Like the Siberians they stay with the tigress until they are between 3 and 5 years old.

Bengal tigers can carry the recessive genes that causes the occurrence of white tigers. All white tigers therefore are part Bengal. Weight: Male: 419 – 569 lbs; Female: 221 – 353 lbs. Length: Male: 8 – 11 feet; Female: 7 – 9 feet.

Diet: Wild ox (gaur) and buffalo, wild boar, types of deer, monkeys.

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