The exquisite grace and power of the Bengal Tiger evokes both awe and fear in man. Capable of killing animals over twice its size, it is one of nature's most feared  predators.  The characteristic reddish gold fur and black stripes are easily visible to visitors in a zoo. But in the tiger's natural habitat of forest and reed beds, the markings act as camouflage and enable it to disappear from view.

Facts and Knowledge:

Habitat: The Bengal tiger is most numerous in the mangrove forest of the Sundarbans in eastern India and Bangladesh where the River Ganges meets the Bay of Bengal.  They are also found in other areas of India as well as some parts of Nepal and Burma.  Since Bengal tigers are solitary and do not like to share their hunting ground, they need large home ranges in which to hunt. Males occupy about 20 square miles, while female typically required 17 square miles.  A tiger usually has several dens in its home range and uses whichever one is most convenient at the time.

Breeding: Bengal tigers usually breed in the spring.  A neighboring male will mate with a female in her home range.  Of the 20-80 days he remain with her, her is fertile for only 3-7 days.  After mating, the male returns to his home range and plays no part in rearing the cubs.. Approximately 15 weeks later, the tigress gives birth to two to four cubs. She suckles them for 8 weeks, after which she brings them prey to eat as well. At 11 months, the tiger cubs stay with their mother for 2-3 years, at which time she is ready to mate again.

Behavior: The Bengal tiger is solitary and does not like to share its range with other tigers. All tigers mark their territory with strong smelling urine and also by shredding the bark of trees.  Bengal tigers drag the remains of a kill into the brush and bury it loosely with leave, then return to eat it later.

Food & Hunting:  Bengal tigers are nocturnal: they hunt at night.  Though powerful and quick over short distances, they stalk their prey because they can not outrun faster prey.  THe tiger kills small prey with a bite to the throat.  Tigers mainly hunt guar (wild ox) and buffalo.  Although a tiger is capable of killing a bull guar more than twice it size, it  prefers to attack young or old animals that put up less resistance.  In the Sundarbans region of India and Bangladesh, the tiger's prey are chital (axis deer), wild boar, and monkeys. Tigers will sometimes attack porcupines.

Key Facts: Sizes, Weight, breeding, lifestyle, related Species
Length: males, 9 - 10 ft, head to tip of tail
Male: 36 in to shoulder
Weight: 400 - 575 lb.

Sexual maturity: 3-4 years
Mating: Usually in spring
Gestation: 95 - 112 days
No of young: Usually 2 - 4 cubs

Habit: Solitary and nocturnal.
Diet: Chital, wild boar, monkeys, guar, buffalo
Life span: 15 years under normal conditions

Distribution: The Bengal tiger is most numerous in the Sundarbans regions of India and Bangladesh. It is also found in northern and central India and in Burma and Nepal.
Conservation: In 1900 the tiger population of India was estimated at 40,000 to 50,000 by 1992 this number and had dropped to 1,850. A good conservation program has increased it to 4,000 in 1996.  And now over 5000 in 1998

Did you know:
The roar of a Bengal tiger can be heard 2 miles away.
Bengal tigers purr. Domestic cats purr when breathing in as well as out, tigers purr only when breathing out.
After killing prey, the tiger always starts feeding from the hindquarters first.
A tiger is a voracious eater.  It can kill the equivalent of 30 buffalos a year, and eat 65 pounds of meat in a night.
Tigers. unlike many others cats, often eat meat that has begun to putrefy.
The Siberian tiger, a cousin of the Bengal tiger, is the worlds largest cat.

 The Bengal Tigers Teeth: Like its ancestor, the saber toothed tiger the Bengal tiger teeth are vital to tits survival. If its looses it canines (tearing teeth) due to injury or old age, it can no longer kill prey and will starve to death.
The saber tooth tiger had long canines which were used to stab it prey.  its jaw structure enabled it to kill with a powerful, downward bite.

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