Known as: Bengal tiger, Indian tiger, Tigre du Bengal.
Estimated numbers left in the wild: Less than 3,000.
The Bengal tiger is probably the tiger most people are familiar with, and although it is smaller than its cousin the Amur tiger, it is still a large and powerful animal. Male Bengal tigers can measure up to 2.9 meters in length, while females are generally found in the range of 2.5 meters. While most Bengal tigers have yellow, orange, or russet fur striped with black, some individuals are born with white fur in place of the background colouring. These white tigers are not albinos, but merely a rare colour variation, and are referred to as royal Bengal tigers. White markings are found on the face above the eyes and on the side ruff. The white spots on the backs of the ears seem to be a means by which to signal cubs, although there is some speculation that they may be protective ‘eye spots.’ Although the colouring looks bold when the tiger is in the open, it actually allows the cat to blend in almost invisibly in long grass or brush.
Bengal tigers are meat eaters and the Indian subcontinent offers a number of game animals such as the gaur, wild boar, and deer. When hungry, a Bengal tiger will eat rabbits and birds. These tigers prefer to hunt by night and spend the day sleeping. The Bengal tiger is an exception to the general rule that cats hate water – this cat loves to lie in streams or ponds to cool off, and is such as strong swimmer that it can swim for 25 kilometres without problem.
Each Bengal tiger establishes its own territory, the size of which will be determined by sex and availability of game. Although territories will overlap, territories are usually between 15 and 30 square kilometres. Solitary for the most part, Bengal tigers will form a temporary bond when the female is ready to mate, but she will raise the 1 to 4 cubs by herself. Cubs remain with their mothers up to 3 years, with the females staying the longest. In the wild, Bengal tigers live approximately 8 to 10 years.
Location: The majority of Bengal tigers are found in India, but their range also extends into areas of Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, and Myanmar. The greatest numbers of these tigers are in scattered locations in India. Formerly, the range of this tiger included nearly all of the subcontinent as well as the entirety of Bangladesh and Bhutan and most of Nepal and Myanmar. A population of Bengal tigers is found in the Sundarbans mangrove swamp between India and Bangladesh.
Threats: Tigers have always been hunted as trophy animals, for their pelts, and for the supposed medicinal value of their body parts. Although Bengal tigers have protected status over the entirety of their range, poaching continues to take a toll on these magnificent cats. Initially, protection helped the numbers of the tigers to remain steady, but the demands of traditional Chinese medicine, which has been growing in recent years, is once again making inroads into their numbers. Additionally, the tigers in the Sundarbans are now under pressure from rising sea levels because of climate change. As human populations in India and nearby countries continue to rise, tigers are also subject to habitat destruction.
Conservation efforts: Quite a few organizations are dedicated to saving Bengal tigers, including the World Wildlife Fund and Save the Tigers, among others. Reforestation will help give tigers more access to prey animals, reducing the chances of tiger/human conflicts. Anti-poaching patrols can also prevent Bengal tigers from winding up in a bottle on a pharmacy shelf in Beijing.
Bengal Tiger Videos
Panthera is an American based organisation. Their main focus is to conserve the world’s largest wild cats including the Bengal Tiger by supporting research and education programmes in different countries.