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Surfindia » Travel » States » West Bengal » Indian Wildlife » Bengal Tiger

Bengal Tiger

West-Bengal City Guide

West Bengal is a land of natural beauty, exquisite lyrical poetry and enthusiastic people. Situated in the east of India, West Bengal is stretches from the Himalayas in the north to the Bay of Bengal in the South.

The Bengal Tiger is a majestic and exotic animal. With average male weight of about 440lbs and 10' in length, the Bengal Tiger is the second largest cat alive today with males weighing an average However, a male Bengal Tiger was killed in 1967 weighing a tremendous 857 pounds!

The scientific name of tiger is 'Panthera tigris'. It is believed that the royal cat originated from Siberia. From there, they migrated down south as the climate became colder. Tigers are found in Siberia, Manchuria and the Asian continent. In Asia, India and Malaysia are the two significant countries where tigers live. The Indian tigers, the Royal Bengal tigers are the most harmonious animals found in Sundarban in Bengal.
The Bengal Tiger is one of the largest and royal cats in the world, second to the Siberian tiger. The length of the males reach of 10 feet from head to tail, and weigh around 500 pounds in the wild. The females are usually smaller, averaging around 8-9 feet long and weighing approximately 300 pounds.

The most outstanding characteristic of a tiger is certainly the orange and black stripes that appear on the tiger's pelt. These stripes are used to break up the coloration of the tiger when it is hunting. This stripes on Tiger back makes difficult for the prey to see, thus allowing it to capture prey more easily.

Bengal tigers also appear in a mysterious white form. These animals are often mistaken for another species, however they are Bengal tigers. The white tigers are not albino, but they are lucistic. This mutation is similar to albinism because it prevents the production of melanin, the coloring pigment present in the skin and hair. However, lucistic tigers have blue eyes, unlike the pink eyes of an albino. These animals do occur in the wild, but their light coloration makes it difficult for them to survive to adult. They are easily seen by predators and make an easy meal. This keeps the tiger population orange due to Natural Selection. For more information on Evolution and the theory of Natural Selection
Generally Bengal Tigers are good swimmers, but poor climbers. Bengal Tigers depend on an acute sense of hearing to help them stalk prey. As they are good learners, their get acquainted with the behaviors while being a cub, both from their mother, and from play. Tiger cubs stay with their mother until they are two years of age.

The Bengal tigers are quite comfortable during the mangrove forests 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 loner and do not like to share their hunting grounds, they need large home ranges in which to hunt. Males occupy about 20 square miles, while females typically require 17 square miles. A tiger usually has several dens in its home range and uses whichever one is most convenient at the time.
By Law of nature, all tigers are carnivorous. Bengal Tiger prefer to hunt large prey like the sambar deer and wild cattle. They generally consume and hunt a diverse hooved mammals that includes deer, antelope, wild boar, wild pigs etc. The nature of the Tiger's hunting method and prey availability results in a "feast or famine" feeding style . Tigers gorge themselves often consuming 40-60 lbs of meat at one time as they may not be successful hunting again for several days.

Spring is the best time when Bengal Tigers prefer to mate. During this time the female becomes fertile for three to seven days. After mating, the male and female remain together. After some days male leaves the female and plays no further part in rearing the cubs. About 15 weeks later, two to four cubs are born.Tiger cubs lactate for up to six months, although the mother starts to bring them small prey from age of 6 weeks.Once weaned, the cubs join their mother hunting to learn the skills they will need to survive on their own. When cubs are18 months, they are able to feed themselves by hunting.

Distribution of Bengal Tiger
The Bengal tiger is found in spectrum of habitats dry deciduous to tropical moist evergreen forests, mangrove swamps, alluvial grasslands and mountain forests in Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India and Nepal. Now , it occurs only in small, isolated protected areas . Most of these sanctuaries are not large enough to sustain long term viable tiger populations. It currently numbers less than 5,000.

Life span
The Bengal tiger is an endangered species because the males often eat the babies. The average Bengal tiger probably doesn’t live more than 15 years in the wild and 16 to 18 years in controlled environments. The Cat Specialist Group IUCN reported an approximate total of 3,250 to 4,700 Bengal tigers throughout the range in 1995.

Bengal Tiger In India
Bandhavgarh : Set amidst the Vindya Hills of Madhya Pradesh, Bandhavgarh is core area of 105 sq km and a buffer area of approximately 400 sq km . The setting for this park is impressive, the ruins of the ancient fort from which this park derives its name provides a stunning backdrop.

Corbett National Park : Started in 1936, the Corbett National Park is one of the oldest Sanctuary of India. It is named after the fearless hunter Jim Corbett. He lived in these hills and saved the life of many local people from the man-eater, the tiger, at the risk of his own life. The park area spans over 1,318 square kms. The Ramaganga river flows through its entire length. The park can be explored by open jeep or elephant rides. There is also a watchtower in the park. The animals here include deer, monkeys and birds, wild elephants, tigers, leopards, black bear, wild boar, snakes and crocodiles. December to April is the best viewing time. Open 16 November to14 June, closed 15 June to 15 November
Ranthambore National Park : Spanning over an area 392 sq km, Ranthambhore National Park was once the hunting preserve of the Maharajas of Jaipur. The rivers Chambal in the South and Banas in the North bound the Ranthambore National Park. There are six man made lakes are the central focus of the park and many perennial streams criss-cross the entire park. Ranthambore National Park is located in eastern Rajasthan at the junction of Aravalis and Vindhya hills.

Ranthambore National Park is quite popular for tigers. Although the park shows a rich diversity of flora and fauna here. About 300 species of trees, 50 species of aquatic plants, 272 birds species, 12 reptiles species 30 species mammals. Other than tiger, other animals found in Ranthambore are Nilgai, Sambhar, Chital, Sloth Bear, Wild Boar, Chinkara, Porcupine, Jackal, Leopard, Jungle Cat and marsh Crocodile.

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