Tigers are the biggest cats in the world. Their coat is reddish-orange coat and there are vertical black stripes on the shoulders and flanks that vary in size, spacing and length. Some subspecies have fur that is paler, some being almost completely white with either dark brown or black stripes along their flanks and shoulders. The muzzle, throat, chest, belly and underside of the limbs are white or light. Above the eyes there is white color that extends to the cheeks. On the back of the ears there is a white spot. The tail is reddish-orange in color and ringed by several dark bands.
Tigers live in South Asia and Southeast Asia, and also the Russian Far East and China. They inhabit tropical lowland evergreen forest, dry thorn forest, monsoonal forest, birch and scrub oak woodlands, mangrove swamps and tall grass jungles.
Habits and lifestyle
Tigers are solitary animals, except during the mating season and when the females give birth. They like to be mostly alone, roaming their huge territories in search of food. They are territorial, marking their territory with scratch marks on trees. These animals are most active during the night, when their prey is most active. They can, however, be active at any time. They prefer to hunt within dense vegetation, using routes where they are able to move quietly. They knock prey onto the ground with the weight of their body and kill their catch by biting their neck. They are very good swimmers and can kill prey while swimming.
Diet and nutrition
All tigers are carnivores, eating mainly ambar deer, water buffalo, wild pigs and antelope. They sometimes hunt sloth bears, dogs, monkeys, hares, leopards, pythons and crocodiles.
These animals are polygynous. They have no association with mates aside from mating. Males within one area may compete for access to a female in estrus. November to April is the most common time for breeding. Gestation lasts for about 103 days, and 1 to 7 cubs can be born. During the first 11 to 14 days following the birth, the mother tiger spends the majority of her time nursing her young. Weaning takes place at around 90 to 100 days. Cubs remain with their mothers until they reach between 18 months and 3 years of age. Tigers are not sexually mature until about 3 or 4 years old for females, and for males, it is about 4 to 5 years old.
The main threats are human persecution through hunting, and habitat destruction. IUCN's Threatened Species Red List categorizes all existing tiger species as endangered.
According to the Defenders Of Wildlife resource the total population size of the Tiger is around 3,000-4,500 individuals. There are estimated to be less than 2,000 Bengal tigers, 750 to 1,300 Indochinese tigers; 450 Siberian tigers, 400 to 500 Sumatran tigers and 600 to 800 Malayan tigers. According to the IUCN Red List the total population size of this species is around 2,154-3,159 mature individuals. Overall, curently tigers are classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List and their numbers today are decreasing.
Tigers help control the populations of their large herbivorous prey, which all put pressure on various plant communities. Due to their role as a top predator, they are considered as keystone species.