Tiger – The Solitary Predator
Tiger is one of the biggest and most lethal predators in the wild. If we ever cross paths with the Tiger in the wild, we can only hope that it is in no mood for food.
One of the Largest Carnivore
Tiger is the biggest cat on the planet and is arguably one of the biggest carnivorous predators too. True, the Kodiak bear, Grizzly, or even the Polar bear could challenge the Tiger for the biggest predator tag, but the bears are not strictly carnivores. They are omnivores feeding on plants, honey, and berries when they have the option. As such, the tiger is the only true blood carnivore and the biggest of them all.
Within the Tiger world, the Siberian Tigers are the biggest cat. It can be eleven feet tall and weigh more than 350 kgs. From a distance, behavior-wise, tigers would look no different from a domestic cat, but that shouldn’t encourage you to go closer. It is one agile and swift cat, and we would be sorry to cross its territory. It is always fascinating to know the difference in size between humans and tigers. So, let’s find out.
That was a Siberian tiger. Tigers seldom attack humans, and situations, where attacks did happen, were traced back to the loss of prey or old age. In such cases, humans were the easiest prey. The Bengal Tigers are one of the most aggressive of the species. They inhabit parts of India and Bangladesh. The tigers carry air around themselves and make them a charismatic beast. Agreed that they don’t have the lions' majestic mane, but their size compensates for it. The tiger is the national animal of India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, and South Korea. All the mentioned countries except South Korea have a tiger population at present.
Did You Know?
India happens to be the only country with Lions, Tigers, and Leopards in the same region. That makes it three of the four big cats. In fact, Asiatic Cheetah was abundant once in India but for them being driven to extinction at the turn of the previous century.
Much like most of the predatory cat population, tigers can take down prey much bigger than them. Unlike lions, which are social and have a sizeable pride population, tigers are solitary beasts. They hunt alone, and that’s what makes their strength further impressive. How strong do you think tigers are vis-à-vis humans? Well, the only way to find out is by having a tug-o-war.
Have a look at the tiger’s power:
Tigers have evolved very well to be able to hunt alone. They rely on ambush, stealth, and lightning-quick strike to take down their prey. Not only can they sprint fast but swim too. There are numerous instances of deers running into the water to escape the tiger’s charge, only to find the tiger catching up even faster. The Tiger population is mostly found around wooded forests, and therefore, their hunting includes dodging trees on the way to get their prey. While the environment helps camouflage the tiger, it must be a task to take down a prey running zig-zag.
Here are some of the tiger kills across the board:
The Ostrich attack was an aberration as that kill was in the Savannah, a territory outside the tiger’s usual expanse. As the story goes, a few years back, there was a trial of introducing tigers in Africa, and this is one kill from that series. I am not certain how well the introduction plan went, but it was dropped from its looks.
Tigers are territorial in nature and are known to kill competitors. The animals falling in the competitor category are leopards, badgers, wolves, bears, crocodiles, and others. Barring the bears and crocodiles, most of the other predators are much smaller in comparison. None of them would like to cross-paths with a tiger, but they are swiftly killed when they do. On some occasions, the tigers are known to feed on these creatures too.
The bears and crocodiles have a win-loss equation with the tiger. There are instances when tigers have won, and there are other times when the crocs and bears have got the better of the tiger. Either way, the young ones of the competing species always are at risk at the others' hands.
So, that gives us an idea of the tiger. Let’s look at their family life.
Did You Know?
The Siberian Tiger can run at speeds more than 80 kmph in knee-deep snow.
That’s almost as fast as a car on the road!
Tiger and Its Young
Tigers can have young ones all through the year. The young ones are born blind and always taken care of by the tigress. The males have no role in taking care of the young. Tigers are quite protective and have been reported to charge elephants at times. The cubs stay with the mother until the age of two, after which they go their separate ways. The fascinating part is that the cubs are as small as kittens at birth but grow phenomenally larger than the domestic cats. Barring the kangaroo and other marsupials, tiger cubs are among the biggest growth witnessed in the animal kingdom.
After the age of two, cubs may still linger around with each other for some time before parting ways for good. Their territorial nature makes them move away and find new territory. Tigers have been known to fight to the death over their territory, and most would try to avoid such confrontation.
But confrontation does happen, and wounds are the natural outcome.
Tigers and Extinction
About three decades back, tigers were classified as critically endangered species. Despite their wide geographical spread and a keen hunting knack, they couldn’t stand up to human interference. Tigers were hunted for sport, and in countries like China, their body parts were considered medicinal. As such, the slump in their population was drastic. Once found abundant across Asia and South East Asia, the tiger population was reduced to a couple of thousands. However, conservation efforts across the board seem to be working.
The tiger population is witnessing a comeback, with India representing the bulk of the numbers. However, there is a lot to be done. Oddly, such a majestic creature is dependant on humans for its survival.
Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
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