Tigers

The tiger is the largest cat of the cat family and are found throughout Asia. Of the original 8 sub species of tiger, three are now extinct. The only remaining five subspecies are, the Bengal which you see here, the Siberian, Sumatran, Indo Chinese and the South Chinese.


The tiger, like the jaguar has no natural enemy except for man. The total wild population of tiger, is estimated between 5000 � 7000 with the Bengal being the most populated numbering about 3500; the least populated are the South Chinese Tiger with only 20-30 left in the wild. Researchers have indicated that within the next 10 years there will be no tigers left in the wild. The only place you will be able to see tigers will be Zoos and Parks like ours. The main threats to tigers are loss of their natural habitat and poaching. Even though it is illegal to kill a tiger, they are still being poached today, their body parts being sold on the black market for a lot of money.

No two tigers have the same stripe pattern � each one is unique, like human fingerprints. Tigers love the water and are very good swimmers. They have web like feet to assist them in the water. Tigers often use water to catch their prey. When they hunt in water they catch prey 1 out of 10 times whereas on land only 1 out of 20 times are successful. Tigers are active between dusk and dawn.
They prey on anything they can find, from the �samber deer� also known as the spotted deer to monkeys, birds and wild boars. They usually consume between 30kg � 40kg of food in a day and often do not hunt for two to three days, sometimes more. Should prey however walk by they cannot resist the opportunity of a Take-Away meal. They sleep between 1 to 18 hours of the day so you can say they are well-rested animals. Tigers can see 6 times better than humans in the dark and are 5 times stronger than a human athlete. They have 30 teeth with the four canines being 3 inches (7.5cm long) and claws 2 inches (5cm long) long. Tigers can jump 3 � 4 meters forward and up. They don�t like to climb trees due to their cumbersome body weight. However what they would do is jump up into a tree for food, grabbing hold of the trunk with their massive claws. The claws are however not able to withhold their enormous body weight for too long, very similar to their relative the lion. Tigers do not purr instead they roar and also �chuff� which is like blowing air through the mouth.

Background info

The most recent subspecies to become extinct was the Javan tiger, last seen in the wild in 1972, the other two being the Bali and the Caspian Tigers.

� Two orange parents that have the gene there�s a 25% chance each cub being white. Two white parents all cubs are white, one orange and one white parent there�s a 50% chance of a cub being white.


The Siberian tiger is the largest of the tiger species; weight of 300kg � 350kg and reach a length of 3-4 meters long from the nose to tip of tail.

Ave. body weight of Male Bengal Tiger � 200kg-250kg
Ave. body weight of Female Bengal Tiger � 125kg � 150kg

Male length � 3m (nose to tail)
Female length � 2m (nose to tail)
Shoulder height � 1m

Tigers have a lifespan of 8-10 years in the wild and 26yrs in captivity
The tiger stripe patterns commonly differ between the two sides of an individual�s body.

Habitat
Tigers preferred habitat is forest although they can also be found in grassland and swamp margins.

Distribution
Tigers range from India to Siberia and South East Asia

Behaviour
They are solitary animals (with exceptions of mothers and cubs) although they might sometimes get together to share a kill. Tigers stalk and ambush their prey. They use dense covering to conceal themselves and sneak up on their prey. More than other big cats, tigers have a reputation as man-eaters. Although tiger attacks on humans are unusual, they do occur. Because the human population in Asia is increasing, farmers and loggers are beginning to use areas where tigers live. This causes increasing conflicts between tigers and humans. It is thought that most tigers who eat humans are sick or injured and unable to kill their usual prey. Once they have acquired a taste for human beings, however, they will in all likelihood continue to kill them.

Reproduction
They give birth to 2-4 cubs after gestation period of 104 days. Cubs will stay with their mother for up to two years before leaving to stake their own territories. Males look for territories away from their site, but females sometimes share their mother�s territories. They begin making their kill at about 18 months.
As with lions, male tigers may kill a female�s cub if the cubs are the offspring of another male. This ensures that the female will come into oestrus and bear the new male�s offspring.

Tigers are on CITES: Appendix 1 and are listed as Endangered. They are illegally poached for their fur and other body parts, and suffer from habitat loss. The Chinese and Siberian tigers are extremely under threat of extinction.

WHITE TIGERS

The total population of the white tiger is estimated at approximately 500 worldwide, all of which are in captivity. One hundred years ago there was an estimated 100 000 tigers in the wild, white tigers were said to have made up 15% of that population. Due to poaching over the years they no longer exist in the wild, it was believed that if you shot and stuffed a white tiger it would scare away evil spirits. The last white tiger was found in the wild in 1951.

White tigers have a double recessive gene; they are not albinos, but the blond hair, blue eye version of the orange Bengal tiger, you would need both parents to carry this gene to be able to reproduce a white tiger.