Tigers around the world
The largest cat species in the world Tigers (Panthera tigris), a male can weigh around 440 lb (200 kg). However in Kanha National Park when MB2 was about to relocate a young male of age around 19 – 24 months was 420 lb (191 kg). Orange with a black strip, as an identity of its own different from one another, makes one of the most beautiful cat species in the world.
The tail of a Tiger from 60 cm to 100 cm long, with the black band, helps them to manoeuvre their movement while hunting with the maximum speed of 40 miles/hour (60 km/hr). Among all of the big cats, Tigers has the longest Canines of length 2.5 inches to 3 inch (6.4 to 7.6 cm), a key weapon for hunting and helps them to lift or drag the prey weighing more than 390 Ib ( Sambar weigh around 180 kg).
With the maximum energy at its hind legs, a Tiger can jump up to 16 feet high above the surface, which also means that a Tiger can easily jump upon an elephant top. The strong, sharp and retractable claws of length up to around 04 inches of a Tiger helps them to grasp and hold the prey, and bring them down. The black ear from the back with a white spot on it, capable of rotating to detect the various sounds from different directions, from the dense forest of India Jungle, have the most acute sense of all its senses.
One of the key features of the sense of smell for a Tiger is to find a mate. A tigress spray mark around their territory leaves the smell, whether a Tigress is on oestrous or not. When a Tiger get the smell, they pick up the scent to the upper lip and curl it upwards towards their nose to detect the scent. It also helps them to find the other intruder (Tiger or Tigress) around.
Tigers have exceptionally the best eyesight, they can see around six times better than a human. With the big pupil, and having more rod cells (responsible for visual acuity for shapes) in their eyes than cone cells (responsible for colour vision), they can see a lot better at the night as well. The best eyesight in the dark has also made Tiger, nocturnal (active in the night) and crepuscular (active in dawn and dusk) in behaviour.
Compare to humans with 9000 taste buds, generally, cats have only 500. So, Tigers have very few taste buds, they seem to be able to taste Salt, Bitter and acidic flavours and a lesser degree of sweetness. However, the numerous small, sharp, rear-facing projection on the tongue of a Tiger called as Papillae helps them to strip feather, fur and meats from a prey.
Tiger Safari in India has experienced dramatic and rapid growth in the last two decades. In India in some of the National Parks like Ranthambhore National Park allows 140 vehicles in a day. The generation of Tigers has seen the vehicle, resulting in these Tigers being used to the vehicle. There is a Tigress called Collarwali in Pench National Park, I have witnessed a Tigress using a vehicle as a hide for a hunt.
As far as Tigers are concern the National Parks of India with Nature Safari India are the best possible chances of getting the best-experienced tour. Nature Safari India has a regular update on the sightings of different parts of India. Guides/Naturalists from each park are of good knowledge and good in communication with brilliant interpretive guiding experience.
Different subspecies of Tigers
As per WWF reports, there are an estimated population of around 3900 Tigers living in the wild left on our planet. Now 13 different countries in the world still have the treasure of one of the most beautiful cat species, Tigers. There are currently 06 different sub-species of Tigers living in the wild. As per the 2018 Tiger census, India has around 70 per cent of the total population of Royal Bengal Tiger in the world, i.e, 2967. Know more about tigers and tiger populations here.
Royal Bengal Tiger (Panthera Tigris), is one of the sub-species we find in India. There were 03 more different sub-species of Tigers which got extinct from our planet are Javan, Caspian and Bali Tigers. One of the sub-species South-China Tiger (Panthera tigris amoyensis), out of 06 subspecies have also been not sighted since the last decade. The six different subspecies of Tigers known to be living in the wild are:
- Bengal Tiger (Panthera tigris tigris)
- Indochinese Tiger (Panthera tigris corbetti)
- Sumatran Tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae)
- Siberian or Amur Tiger (Panthera tigris altaica)
- Malayan Tiger (Panthera tigris jacksoni)
- South-China Tiger (Panthera tigris amoyensis), is most likely extinct from the wild.
It is difficult to identify a Tiger from another if you are not used to understanding them. How to identify a Tiger? During the Tiger Safari in India, you may see one Tiger several times. If it is the first time, then without guidance it is difficult to make out the difference, whether it is the same or different.
A key factor to identify is just to observe the marking on the face. However, here we are talking about the different sub-species. These sub-species vary from each other in different aspects like firstly size (Amur is the largest), their strip patterns, their face structure. Over the years the Tigers living in different regions of the world have adapted and evolved themselves in a way that they could survive in the weather and prey conditions of the region.
1. Bengal Tiger (Panthera tigris tigris)
Bengal Tiger is one of the sub-species which are in maximum numbers in the wild compare to other 05 subspecies, is native to the Indian sub-continent. It is found in India, Nepal, Bhutan and Nepal. This is the most well-known Tiger species in the world. As being the highest in number, the chances of seeing these Tigers are high. Having 70 per cent of the total population of the Royal Bengal Tiger, India has been the centre of attraction for a Wildlife safari or the Tiger Safari. Read more about top national parks for tiger safari in India.
Bengal Tiger, a male weigh around 440 lbs (200 kg), with the head to body length of around 207 cm (80 in), and the tail with the length of 106 cm (42 in). Two male tigers were captured in Chitwan National Park, Nepal was around 660 lbs (270 kg) each individual, are the largest reported Tigers to date. Before a few decades back, in the year 1967, a Tiger was shot in the foothills of the Himalayas, Uttar Pradesh, weigh more than 857 lbs (688 kg). It was killed just after it had eaten a calf. The specimen is then taken and now at the US Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC, USA.
In India to maximize the chances of seeing Tiger a well-planned tour, Just Tigers Tour by Nature Safari India is one of the best. In which three prime National Parks of Central India, Pench, Kanha and Bandhavgarh National Parks gets covered.
2. Indochinese Tiger (Panthera tigris corbetti)
As per WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) around 350 individual Indochinese Tigers are living in the wild across six different countries in Southeast Asia namely, Thailand, Cambodia, China, Lao’s People the Democratic Republic, Myanmar and Vietnam. The Indochinese Tigers are smaller than the Bengal Tiger, a male Indochinese Tigers will weigh around 419 lb (190 kg), whereas females weigh just around 287 lb (130 kg).
There was a fall of 70 % population of Indochinese Tigers in just two decades, with the rapid development and the road constructions caused the fragmentation of habitat. The best chance of seeing these Tigers is Dawna Tennasarium Landscape on the Thailand-Myanmar border. There are around 250 individuals as per the record.
3. Sumatran Tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae)
Sumatran Tiger is found on the Sumatran Island of Indonesia. IUCN report says that there are around fewer than 400 individuals left in the wild. These Tigers has darker coats. The density of the strips is more than any other Tiger sub-species. They are the smallest of all six sub-species.
Sumatran tigers are smaller than The Bengal and the Javan Tiger. A male of Sumatran Tiger can weigh around 320 lb (145 kg) and a female goes up to around 254 lb (115 kg). No Tigers have the same marking, males in Sumatran Tiger has the prominent ruff (Click here for data).
4. Siberian or Amur Tiger (Panthera tigris altaica)
Siberian Tiger is the largest among all 6 different sub-species of Tigers. An adult male can reach up to the body length of two-meter with his tail adding. The average weight of an adult male Amur Tiger is 440 lb (200 kg); however, it can also weigh around or more than 661 lb (300 kg). As being found in one of the coldest habitats, Siberian Tiger has a very thick fir, which makes them look much bigger in appearance.
95 per cent of the Amur Tiger population is in far Eastern Russia and the rest 5 per cent in Northeast China and possibly North Korea. There are now between 480 to 540 individuals living in the wild in the world.
5. Malayan Tiger (Panthera tigris jacksoni)
Malayan Tiger is found in the Malay Peninsula region, and along with the tip of southern Thailand. Malayan Tigers and Indochinese Tigers appearance are very similar, same like them it is little smaller than the Bengal tiger. It was only in 2004 the Malayan Tiger was recognized as a different sub-species before both were called Indochinese Tigers. There is now less than 300 individual left in the wild.
Habitat loss due to development projects and agriculture is a serious threat to the decrease in the population of Malayan Tiger.
6. South-China Tiger (Panthera tigris amoyensis)
South China Tiger is the second smallest Tiger sub-species, with the weight ranging between 220 lb to 390 lb (100 to 180 kg). These animal has also been called by a different name, like Amoy or Xiamen Tiger. For the last 25 years, there has been no record of the Tiger, they are known to be ‘functionally extinct.
There was not much difference in Tigers number after the ban of Tiger hunting in China in the year 1979. The population was already on the verge of extinction. In 1996 the estimated population of the South-China Tiger was hunted down to 30-80 individuals.
There were three more different sub-species of Tigers in the world that are extinct now. The extinct subspecies of Tigers which we have not been able to witness are:
7. Bali Tigers (Panthera tigris balica)
Bali Tiger is one of the extinct species known to be found in the mangrove forest, dunes, and Savannah vegetation of the Western region of the Island Bali, which is a part of Indonesia. Bali Tiger was known to be the smallest among all 09 sub-species. The last Bali Tiger was recorded in the 1930s, until world war II the Tigers were hunted and their home, habitat has been used by humans lead them to extinction.
8. Javan Tiger (Panthera tigris sondaica)
Javan Tiger is known to be found in the Java Island of Indonesia until the 1970s. Javan Tigers were a little bigger than the Royal Bengal Tiger (Panthera tigris tigris). Compare to other Tigers these Tigers used to have a little long and narrow nose. Males used to weigh around 130 to 140 kg, which is almost the size of a Female Royal Bengal Tiger.
9. Caspian Tiger (Panthera tigris virgate)
Caspian Tiger is also called as Hyrcanian Tiger or Turan Tiger, used to be found all around the Caspian Sea region to the west and towards east Northern Iran, Iraq, Eastern Turkey as far as north-west China. The Caspian Tiger are known to the inhabitant of the spares forest riverine corridors in Ukraine and Southern Russian region in the 1970s.
However, now since 2017 IUCN has referred to only two sub-species Continental Tigers and Sunda Tigers. The Sunda Tigers include Sumatran, Java, and Bali Tigers, and the Bengal, Malayan, Indochinese, South Chinese, Amur Tigers all fall in sub-species of Continental Tiger.