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Bengal tiger
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Bengal tiger

Facts about the Bengal Tiger

Family: Felidae
Length: 2.7 to 3.1 m (including tail)
Height at shoulder: 91 cm
Weight: 180 to 250 kg
Sexual maturity: 3 to 5 years
Lifespan: 15 years

  • Light orange coat with dark stripes
  • Long retractable claws
  • Extremely powerful jaws
  • Excellent night vision

The Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) is the best known of all tigers. Most of the wild population is concentrated in the mangrove forests of the Sundarbans, on the India-Bangladesh border. Also present in certain regions of Nepal and Burma, this great feline is one of the eight tiger subspecies.

 

Vast territory

The solitary-natured Bengal tiger marks its territory with odorous secretions aimed at keeping other tigers away. Availability of food determines the size of its hunting territory. This apex predator generally requires an enormous living space that can exceed 100 km2.

Habitat

The Bengal tiger can be found in a variety of wooded habitats, including jungle, tropical rainforest and mangrove swamp. It also inhabits certain alpine forests in the foothills of the Himalayas.

Agile and powerful

The Bengal tiger’s strong and agile body makes the animal an outstanding jumper, capable of leaping nearly 10 m. On solid ground, it can sprint at great speeds, but only for short distances. Unlike the majority of felines, the tiger’s weight limits its climbing ability. However, Bengal tigers are known to be excellent swimmers. 

Lightning-fast attack

The tiger is a quiet stalker that patiently awaits its prey. For the victim, its lightning-speed attack is usually fatal. Depending on size, it either snaps the spine of its prey with its powerful jaws, or seizes it by the throat, killing it outright. Despite its imposing size, this tiger generally requires no more than 6 kg of meat per day and stores surplus food for later consumption.

Nocturnal hunter

The Bengal tiger is a formidable nighttime hunter that especially targets prey made vulnerable by disease, injury or old age. It has a strong preference for deer and various bovines, but does not turn down smaller game. Of all felines, the Bengal tiger is the only one to eat meat that has begun to decompose.

Short-lived relationships

These tigers form mating pairs only for the three to seven days that the breeding period lasts. Males are attracted by the special odour emitted by females in heat. When several males vie for the same female, confrontation is usually limited to basic intimidation tactics. After mating, the male returns to his territory.

Cubs

Following a gestation period of 15 weeks, the tigress gives birth to a litter of two to four cubs, each weighing barely 1 kg. The eyes of newborns remain closed until about the tenth day. After about two months, the mother begins introducing the cubs to the taste of meat, in order to be able to wean them at around the age of six months.

Into adulthood

At one year, armed with its adult teeth, the young tiger can hunt on its own. Over the following year, it reaches a weight of between 150 and 200 kg, making it strong enough to take down larger prey. Between the ages of two and three years, the adult tiger leaves its mother to claim its own territory.

Threats

In under a century, three tiger subspecies have become extinct. Between 1900 and 1972, the Bengal tiger population plummeted from between 40,000 and 50,000 individuals to less than 2,000. Since then, a program to save the animals has helped halt the decline, and today, Bengal tiger numbers are estimated at 4,000 individuals.

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Links
Jacinthe Bouchard (French website)
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