Tigers

Tigers Tigers are descended from civet-like animals called niacis that lived during the age of the dinosaurs about 60 million years ago (Dang, 1994). These small mammals, with long bodies and short flexible limbs, evolved over millions of years into several hundred different species, including cats, bears, dogs and weasels. About 37 cat species exist today (Dang, 1994). Tigers evolved in eastern Asia , but it is not exact. Sabre-tooth tigers are not the ancestors of today’s tigers. In fact, sabre-tooth tigers belonged to a separate branch of cat evolution which became extinct many millions of years ago. The Siberian or Amur tiger lives primarily in eastern Russia, and a few are found in northeastern China and northern North Korea.

It is estimated that 437-506 Siberian tigers still exist in the wild (Tilson ,1995). About 490 captive Siberian tigers a re managed in zoo conservation programs (Tilson, 1995). The South China tiger is the most critically endnagered of all tiger subspecies. They are found in central and eastern China. It is estimated that only 20-30 South China tigers are left in the wild (Dang ,1994). Currently 48 South China tigers live in 19 zoos, all in China (Dang ,1994).

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The distribution of the Indochinese tiger is centered in Thailand, and is found in Myanmar, southern China, CAnbodia, Laos, Vietnam, and penisular Malaysia. About 1,180- 1,790 Indochines tigers are left in the wild and about 60 live in zoos (Tilson, 1995). Bengal tigers live in India, and some range through Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Myanmar. The estimated wild population is approzimately 3,060- 4,735 tigers, with about 333 in captivity, primarily in zoos in India (Dang, 1994). White tigers are just white-colored Bengal tigers.

They ae not a separate subspecies of tiger, and they are no albinos. They have blue eyes, a pink nose, and creamy white fur with chocolate colored striipes, White tigers are only born when two tigers that both carry the unusual gene for white coloring mate, Wild white tigers are very rare, and todayt they can only be seen in zoos. The Sumatrain tiger is found only on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. About 400-500 wild Sumatran tigers are believed to exist, primarily inthe island’s five national parks (Dang, 1994). Another 235 Simatran tigers live in zoos around the world (Dang, 1994).

Three tiger subspecies have been considered to become extinct in the past 70 years (Tilson ,1994). The Caspian tiger, known as the Panthera tigris virgata, once ranged in Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, Mongolia, and Central Asiatic area of Russia and probably went extinct in the 1950’s (Tilson, 1995). The Javan tiger, Panthera tigris sondaica, formerly ranged on the Indonesian island of Java and was last seen in 1972 (Tilson, 1995). The Bali tiger, Panthera tigris balica, once lived on Bali, where the last tiger was believed to have been killed in 1937 (Tilson, 1995). Tigers have social behavior.

Adult tigers are solitary animal that establish their territories in areas with enough prey, cover and water to support them. The hardship of loating prey in tiger habitat makes it more efficient for tigers to hunt alone. As a result, they do not tend to form social groups like lions. A female tiger and her cubs are the exception to this, and will form a family group for 2 to 3 years, until the cubs are able to fend for themselves (Dang ,1994). The territory of a tiger usually ranges in size from about 10 to 30 square miles, although the territory of a Siberian tiger may be as large as 120 square miles (Tilson, 1995).

Both male and female tigers spray bushes and trees along their route with amixture of urine and scent gland secretions. This is a way of declaring their territory. They also leave marks on trees, and urinate or leave droppongs in prominent places. Female tigers reach maturity when they area bout 3 years old and males reach it when they are a year or so later (Dang, 1994). In temperate climates, a tigress comes into heat only seasonally , but in tropical climates, she may come int heat throughtout the year. She signals her readiness with scent marking and locating roars.

The brief act of copulaiton occurs continually for a five day period. Tigers are induced ovulators, and must be stimualted through frequent copulation in order to become pregnant. To stimulate ovulation the male tiger’s penis has spines. This explains in part why the female roars and lashes out at the male immediately following copulation. After mating, the period for tigers is about 103 days (Tilson, 1995).

The average litter size of tigers is 2 or 3 cubs (Tilson, 1995). One usually dies at birth. Tiger cubs are born blind and weigh only about 2 to 3 pounds (Tilson, 1995). They live on their mother’s milk for 6-8 weeks before the female begins taking them to kill in order to feed (Tilson, 1995). They start making their kills within 18 months of age (Tilson, 1995).

Young tigers leave their mother’s range at anywhere from a year and a half to three years of age, depending on whether the mother has another liter. Females tend to stay closer to the mother’s range than males. Over much of the tiger’s broad geographic range, wild pig, wild cattle and several species of deer are its major prey. All prey are forest or grassland ungulates that range in size from 65 to 2,000 pounds (Tilson, 1995). Tigers are ambush hunters, stalking their prey, appproaching as closely as possible.

When they are close enough they charge the animal. They bite the neck or throat of their prey. The neck bite, which affects the spinal cord, is typically used on small or medium sized prey. The throat bite that causes suffocation is used on larger animals. After killing their prey, tigers drag the animal to a safe place so that no one else eats it.

They usually carry their prey in high trees. Typically, wild tigers go wild on fresh kills, and can eat as much as 40 pounds of meat at one time (Dang, 1994). Several days may pass before they are hungry enough to hunt again. Although tiger attacks on humans are unusual, they do sometimes occur. Because the Asian human population is increasing, farmers and loggers are beginning to use areas where tigers live.

This causes increasing conflicts between tigers and human. It is thought that most tigers who eat humans are sick or injured and unanble to kill their prey. Once they have acquired a taste for human beings, they will keep eating humans. While man- eating tigers are a rarity in most parts of Asia, they are common in the Sunderbans. No one lives in the magrove forests and swamps of the Sunderbans. The Sunderban tigers seem to have targeted humans as prey, and human being attacked are being reported every year.

Several different have been used to combat man-eating tigers in the Sunderbans. One method uses human dummies fitted with electric wires from car batteries. This method administers a shock when touched by a tiger. Another method uses a simple mask of a human face which arw worn on back of your head. This effectively made both sides of the wearer appear to be the front.

This method is used because tigers usually attack from the behind. While this method seemed to work for several years, the Sunderban tigers have discovered the trick. In no further discussion, tigers are very interesting to learn about. Tigers may be dangerous if you invade their territory. Tigers can be found in open areas and zoos . If you want to see tigers you should go to a zoo. Tigers are becoming extinct because we are invading their territories and we should protect them from going extinct because they are fascinating creatures.