A fabulous animal that inspired terror and respect for the ancients, the Tiger would have disappeared during the 20th century if the world scientific community had not sounded the alarm bells. It was in 1969 that WWF reported the catastrophic numbers of tigers, less than 2,000 in India. Of the 7 subspecies that lived in 1900, only 5 remain today.
Easily recognizable by its red-striped black fur, the tiger Panthera tigris is the largest wild feline and one of the largest land carnivores.
A super predator, it mainly hunts deer and wild boar, although it can attack bigger prey such as buffaloes.
Competing with the lion for the status of "king of the beasts" in traditional culture, the Tiger is an iconic figure representing ferocity. Until the 19th century, his reputation as a man-eater stuck to him. Yet, among wild animals, tigers usually don't kill the most. And for a good reason, the Tiger is very quickly educated by its mother to avoid the human beings who persecute it.
His fascination with his charisma and his place in the collective unconscious makes him one of the most poached species on the planet today. Wanted for their skins and various parts of their body, they are supposed to treat different pathologies in traditional Chinese medicine. Felines are victims of international trafficking carried out by powerful mafias.
Today, no one can say whether there will still be wild tigers in 50 years.
The characteristics of the Tiger
The Tiger is imposing and very powerful thanks to the muscles of its anterior shoulders and its 7.5 cm canines. It has long hind legs and a long tail. But what makes the Tiger so unique are its black vertical stripes across its orange coat; each strip is distinctive and characterizes a specific individual, like our fingerprints.
Physical characteristics of the Tiger
The Tiger is the largest and most powerful of all felines. With a tail length of up to 1.10 m, the Tiger can be up to 3.70 m in length overall.
Weight: 260 kg
The male weighs between 180 and 260 kg; the much smaller female weighs between 130 and 160 kg.
Longevity: 16 years
We can estimate the lifespan of a tiger at about 25 years when it is in captivity, which is the case for most individuals. But it takes about ten years less if he is free.
Speed: 50 km / h
The Tiger can run at 50 km / h but for a maximum of 20-30 m. He is, however, enduring because, being an excellent swimmer, he is able to swim for several km.
The Tiger food
Food: The Tiger is the second-largest land predator behind the bear. It needs 10 kg of meat per day but can sometimes swallow 50. It hunts various prey but particularly appreciates the buffalo, the sambar, or the gaur but is often satisfied with monkeys and birds or even fish, pythons, and even crocodiles when the game is scarce.
Tiger distribution: The Tiger is found only in Asia: in India, Southeast Asia, and eastern Siberia.
Its habitat: The Tiger lives in tropical jungles, mangroves, and savannas. The Tiger is a solitary animal that lives on its territory of 50 km² on average and has several dens.
Reproduction of the Tiger
Sexual Maturation: The sexual maturity of the female arrives at the age of 3-4 years. That of the male comes a little later, around the age of 4-5 years.
Mating season: The tiger breeds in late fall - early winter, as well as in spring. For a short period of a few days, tigers mate several times a day.
Gestation: After 3 months - 3 and a half months, the female gives birth to cubs that will be blind for 10 days.
Litter: An average litter constitutes two cubs but can go up to 5 small.
Poaching and illegal trade
The greatest threat to tiger populations today remains poaching to meet the sustained demand for products derived from tigers - mainly for traditional medicine. Large-scale illegal trafficking in derivatives is responsible for the complete disappearance of the felines in several reserves created to protect them. Traffickers speculate on the price of derivative products, storing them in anticipation of rising prices inversely proportional to the number of tigers still alive in the wild.
The Tiger has lost 93% of its traditional range. The large-scale destruction of its habitat and the disappearance of its prey are the two other main threats to the long-term survival of the Tiger in the wild. Over the past decades, the feline's habitat has been devastated, degraded, and fragmented by human activity, primarily clearing forests for agriculture, logging, and others such as building road infrastructure. Over the past decade, nearly 45% of the Tiger's habitat has been lost. It only has 7% of its historic range left today.
The particular situation for the Bengal Tiger
The Bengal Tiger, also known under the scientific name ''Panthera tigris'', is one of the most beautiful wild animals and one of the most threatened in the world. It is very famous for its distinct fur, and its origin is from Bangladesh, where it is considered a national treasure.
Unfortunately, as many threatened wild animals, the Bengal tiger is a species that is in disappearance. Its unique fur with black strips is the leading cause of its extinction. Because of its imposing size and power, the Bengal Tiger has no predators in its natural environment except man.
Human activity has considerably destroyed its species. During the last 25 years, its population has halved. There are currently about 3500 wild tigers compared to 7000 during the 1980s and around 40000 at the beginning of the 20th century.
Bengal tigers tend to move progressively due to the slow but safe destruction of their natural habitat. However, this is not the only factor in their gradual disappearance.
Certain parts of the body of the Bengal tiger are particularly sought after for making traditional Chinese medicinal powders. The Bengal tiger is also highly coveted for its fabulous skin used to make rugs, bags, shoes, and accessories of all kinds.
The value of a Bengal tiger skin can reach very high prices on the black market. According to the Save The Tiger Foundation, a powdered tiger bone sells for around 80 dollars on the black market.
The skins are sold in Tibet and Russia for more than 73.000 dollars.
In 2011, the farm owner in southern Vietnam was sentenced to 3 years in prison for organizing trafficking in tigers, the species he was committed to protecting. He then bred Bengal tigers to sell them, especially for their fur or their bones.
The WWF has been actively involved since 1969 in the conservation of the Tiger and carries out field projects to effectively combat the pressures weighing on this endangered species.