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Tiger - Panthera tigris
Topic Started: Feb 23 2012, 08:50 PM (14,807 Views)
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Tiger - Panthera tigris

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Temporal range : Early Pleistocene – Recent
A Bengal tiger (P. tigris tigris) in India's Ranthambhore National Park.
Conservation status

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Felidae
Genus: Panthera
Species: Panthera tigris

Extant Subspecies
1. Bengal Tiger - Panthera tigris tigris
2. Indochinese Tiger - Panthera tigris corbetti
3. Malayan Tiger - Panthera tigris jacksoni
4. Sumatran Tiger - Panthera tigris sumatrae
5. Siberian Tiger - Panthera tigris altaica

Extinct Subspecies
6. South China Tiger - Panthera tigris amoyensis
7. Caspian Tiger - Panthera tigris virgata
8. Bali Tiger - Panthera tigris balica
9. Javan Tiger - Panthera tigris sondaica

The tiger (Panthera tigris) is the largest cat species, reaching a total body length of up to 3.3 metres (11 ft) and weighing up to 306 kg (670 lb). Their most recognizable feature is a pattern of dark vertical stripes on reddish-orange fur with lighter underparts. They have exceptionally stout teeth, and their canines are the longest among living felids with a crown height of as much as 74.5 mm (2.93 in) or even 90 mm (3.5 in). In zoos, tigers have lived for 20 to 26 years, which also seems to be their longevity in the wild. They are territorial and generally solitary but social animals, often requiring large contiguous areas of habitat that support their prey requirements. This, coupled with the fact that they are indigenous to some of the more densely populated places on earth, has caused significant conflicts with humans.

Tigers once ranged widely across Asia, from Turkey in the west to the eastern coast of Russia. Over the past 100 years, they have lost 93% of their historic range, and have been extirpated from southwest and central Asia, from the islands of Java and Bali, and from large areas of Southeast and Eastern Asia. Today, they range from the Siberian taiga to open grasslands and tropical mangrove swamps. The remaining six tiger subspecies have been classified as endangered by IUCN. The global population in the wild is estimated to number between 3,062 to 3,948 individuals, with most remaining populations occurring in small pockets that are isolated from each other. Major reasons for population decline include habitat destruction, habitat fragmentation and poaching. The extent of area occupied by tigers is estimated at less than 1,184,911 km2 (457,497 sq mi), a 41% decline from the area estimated in the mid-1990s.

Geographic Range
India, Manchuria, China and Indonesia. These mysterious mammals were once found in the regions of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and other parts of Indonesia.

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The habitat across the 8 different subspecies varies to a certain extent. The different types of habitats consist of tropical rainforest, snow-covered coniferous and deciduous forests, mangrove swamps and drier forest types, which are representative of tropical deciduous forests. The tiger's habitat has moderately dense cover to aid in its hunting.

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Physical Description
Mass : 65 to 306 kg; avg. 180 kg (143 to 673.2 lbs; avg. 396 lbs)

Because of the differences between the 8 different subspecies of Panthera tigris, the size in this animal varies. Those tigers that live in India average in weight between 180-260 kg for males and between 130-160 kg for females. Tigers that reside in Indonesia maintain lower weights that range from 100-150 kg for males. Bali tigers are the smalles subspecies, females range from 65 kg to 80 kg and males from 90 to 100 kg. The largest subspecies, Siberian tigers, range from 100 to 167 kg in females and 180 to 306 kg in males. Body lengths vary as well, ranging from 1.9 to 3.3 m (http://lynx.uio.no/catfolk/sp-accts.htm). The height from the ground to the top of the tiger's shoulder is about 91 cm.

The tiger's body is built in such a way to aid in its hunting techniques. Longer hindlimbs than forelimbs are an adaptation for jumping, while strong and powerful forelimbs and shoulders aid in dragging down large prey. Like all cats, tigers have sharp retractile claws. These help this predator to hold onto its prey once the initial attack is made.

Another adaptation to hunting is the tiger's large and powerful jaw, which includes relatively flattened canines. The jaw's power makes the tiger's bite deadly.

The stripes on a tiger act in the same way that a fingerprint does on a human. Each stripe pattern is unique to that particular individual.

A female is only receptive for a few days, and mating is frequent during that time period, possibly reaching 100 copulations during only two days. The male is able to tell when a female is in heat, which decreases any incidences in which an unreceptive female is pursued. A male tiger mates with all the females within his home range.

Mating systems: polygynous .

For tigers that live in the tropical forest region, breeding activity has been recorded throughout the year; however, in the northern regions breeding has only been observed in the winter months. The gestation period is 103 days. A typical litter is about 3-4 cubs in size, each blind and helpless and weighing about 1kg. Rearing of the young is done by the female. In the beginning she needs only to suckle her young, but as they become older and begin to grow more rapidly she must hunt more often to find enough food to sustain both herself and the cubs. One of the reasons a female's home range is smaller than that of a male is because females must stay as close as possible to their young so that they can return to the den often to suckle them. At about 8 weeks of age, the cubs are ready to follow their mother out of the den and become familiar with their surroundings. The cubs begin to gain their independence around 18 months of age, but it is not until they around 2-2 1/2 years old that they go off in search of their own range. The cubs reach sexual maturity by 3-4 years of age.

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In general, the social system of the tiger is not very complex. The mother and her young are the basic social unit. Tigers generally hunt alone; however, there have been instances when a high degree of social tolerance has been demonstrated (MacDonald, 1987). Sometimes tigers are seen in groups in the wild at bait kills, as well as in zoos occupying the same exhibit.

Generally, both female and male tigers maintain home ranges that do not overlap with the home range of another tiger of the same sex. Tigress home ranges are approximately 20sq km while the ranges of males are much larger, covering 60-100sq km. Male home ranges cover the territory of many smaller female home ranges, and those females make up a sort of harem for that male. He must protect his territory and the females within it from competing males. Because it is impossible to be at several places within a home range at one time, tigers use several kinds of signals to communicate a wide spectrum of information. The two main senses used in interpreting these signs are smell and sight. Urine and anal gland secretions are sprayed on trees, bushes and rocks in various places throughout a particular area, as well as feces and scrapes. The information that these signals contain is very useful in reducing physical conflict with neighboring animals. Tigers learn to interpret these signals and perhaps to avoid a particular area because they recognize the scent of another tiger. Males use a behavior called "Flehmen" to determine a female's reproductive condition. This behavior, which includes a characteristic grimace, involves smelling the female's urine to determine if she is in heat (Seidensticker, 1993).

Male tigers may kill a mother's cubs if the cubs are the offspring of a previous male. This ensures that the female will come into heat and bear the new male's offspring.

Food Habits
The main source of food for tigers is large, hooved mammals, but they will eat anything they can catch. Where wild prey is scarce, tigers will readily prey on livestock if it is available. The moderately dense covering in which tigers and their prey live aids in the success of their hunting technique. Tigers are stalk and ambush predators, and they use the dense covering to conceal themselves and sneak up on their prey. When the tiger is close enough to its prey, it suddenly rushes at it and attempts to kill it. Only 1 in 10 or 20 attacks is successful. The tiger uses its powerful body to knock the prey off balance. The attack is normally made from the side or rear of the victim, and the objective is to get the prey off of its feet and to deliver a fatal bit to the back of the neck or throat. The tiger may keep his grip several minutes after death. When the tiger is ready to begin eating its kill, it drags the carcass into a dense covering and begins eating the rump. A considerable amount of meat can be consumed at one time (20-35kg), however, if the kill is to sustain an individual over several days, the amount eaten is generally less (15-18kg/day). Female tigers with young have to kill more often to feed their young and themselves as well.

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Economic Importance for Humans:
Tigers have been known to become man-eaters. Normally, however, contact with humans is avoided. In the rare occasion that a tiger kills a human it is usually because the tiger is old or disabled, and it is unable to hunt successfully. Healthy, young adult tigers have also been reported to kill humans, perhaps because of an accidental close encounter.

Zoos--having tigers in zoos is postive in that people can learn about these animals and try to understand what it is they need to survive and thrive, and also the role humans play in their lives.

Conservation Status
Every subspecies of Panthera tigris is endangered. The wide geographical range could mislead people into thinking that tigers are highly adaptable, but in fact this species is very specialized and requires a particular type of habitat, which is being encroached upon for agricultural purposes. This type of land is a habitat for many large-hooved mammals, which are the bulk of the tiger's diet. Also, most existing tiger reserves are small in size and isolated, and it is rare that interbreeding occurs between different populations. This results in inbreeding, which may cause a problem in the future

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Other Comments
There are 8 different subspecies of Panthera tigris, one of which is the Siberian tiger-- P. t. altaica. This subspecies is the largest living felid, and the record weight for this animal is a male weighing 384 kg. There were only 200 of these animals left in the wild as of 1987. Another subspecies is the Javan tiger-- P.t.sondaica; there are only 3-4 left in the wild. Two subspecies, South Chinese tiger (P. t. amoyensis) and Caspian tiger (P. t. virgata) may be extinct (MacDonald, 1987), and the subspecies called the Balinese tiger (P. t. balica) is now probably extinct.

Edited by Taipan, May 29 2012, 09:33 PM.
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Tiger Dietary information

The principal prey of the tiger consists of various species of deer and wild pigs, usually in the 50 - 200 kg (110 - 440 lb) range. These include sambar, chital, swamp deer, red deer, rusa deer and wild boar. It will also take young elephants and rhinos and smaller species such as monkeys, birds, reptiles and fish. Tigers sometimes prey on leopards and other carnivores such as bears, which they attack in their winter dens. They eat carrion and can be cannibalistic.
In India the gaur is sometimes the main prey, including bulls weighing up to 1000 kg (2200 lb). In Thailand, barking deer was the major prey species, while important secondary prey included wild boar, sambar deer, the crestless Himalayan porcupine and hog badger (Rabinowitz 1989).
The average amount eaten over several days is about 15 - 18 kg/day (33 - 40 lb/day) (Macdonald 1984)."

This one is more detailed -
Tigers hunt mainly between dusk and dawn, but in the secure "conditions of Ranthambhore in the 1980s, tigers frequently hunted during the day (Thapar 1992). The principal prey across their range consists of various species of deer and wild pigs, but U. Karanth (pers. comm.) states that in India’s Nagarhole National Park, gaur are the main prey, including bulls weighing up to 1,000 kg. Tigers will also attack young of elephants and rhinos, and take smaller species, including monkeys, birds, reptiles and fish. Tigers sometimes kill and eat leopards and their own kind, as well as other carnivores, including bears, weighing up to 170 kg, which they have attacked in their winter dens (Hepter and Sludskii 1972). They readily eat carrion (Schaller 1967).
Tigers usually attack large prey with a stalk from the rear, ending with a rush and, sometimes, a spring to bring down the prey. When seizing and killing prey, the tiger’s main target is the neck, either the nape or the throat. The part seized depends on several factors, such as the size of the prey; the size of the tiger; whether the attack is from front, rear or side; and the reactive movements of the prey. Most observations have been of attacks on tethered, young male buffaloes, whose movements are handicapped. There have been relatively few observations of attacks on free-ranging wild animals. Attack and killing methods are described by Brander (1923), Champion (1927), Burton (1933), Corbett (1957), Schaller (1967), McDougal (1977), Thapar (1986), Karanth 1993, Sankhala (1993), and Seidensticker and McDougal (1993). Schaller (1967) noted that adult tigers appeared to be very cautious, and attacked only when the danger of injury was minimal. He states that a tiger characteristically grasps the throat after felling its prey, holding on until the animal dies from suffocation. The throat hold protects the tiger from horns, antlers and hooves and allows it to prevent the prey from regaining its feet. Sankhala (1993) states that tigers prefer to bite the back of the neck, as close as possible to the skull, killing the victim by fracturing the vertebrae and compressing the spinal chord. Larger animals, however, are generally killed with a throat bite. For example, Karanth (1993) examined 181 tiger kills and found that most large prey, such as sambar and gaur, were killed by throat bites. The prey is then usually dragged into cover, tigers displaying their great strength in dragging, even lifting, heavy carcasses. Pocock (1939a) cites an instance in Burma of a tiger dragging the carcass of a gaur that 13 men could not move."

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This work is devoted to one of the most critical problems of Amur tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) conservation, that is, tiger - human relationships. The data were collected in Primorye between 1970 and 1996. Behavior of tigers changed with an increase in the tiger population that began in 1960s. Increased contacts with people and the result of human activity caused tigers to partially lose their fear of people, consequently resulting in more frequent conflicts. We present an analysis of 75 tigers deaths. 40% of tigers were killed in or near settlements. 32% were killed by poachers. The deaths of 28 % of animals were not human related. These data do not reflect the actual number of tiger deaths for the studied period: 10-15 adult tigers are killed annually, and in some years up to 30 tigers were killed, mostly illegally. Beginning in 1992 poaching became more common. For two winter seasons, 1991-92 and 1992-93 poachers killed nearly 70 tigers. The primary reason for increased smuggling was the new opportunity for smuggling skins, carcasses and other tiger parts to China, North and South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, and Japan. We analyzed sex, age, and physical conditions of 62 tiger carcasses for differences between animals in tigers killed due to interactions with humans and those that died from other causes. We also provide an analysis of tiger attacks on people and livestock. The deviant behavior of tigers that results in direct conflict with humans and livestock is mostly a result of previously inflicted wounds or inappropriate actions of the people.

Many examined tigers (30, or 40.0%) were killed in or near settlements. With few exceptions, these tigers attacked domestic animals. Poachers killed 24 (32.0%), while the rest (21, or 28.0%) appeared to be non human caused mortality. These data do not give a realistic picture of tiger mortality during the study period because each year 10-15 (and in some years up to 30) adult tigers are illegally killed, and not reported. Beginning in 1992 the rate of poaching increased dramatically. In two winter seasons (1991-92 and 1992-93) it is estimated that poachers killed 70 Amur tigers in the Russian Far East. The main reason for this surge was increased opportunities for smuggling tiger skins and bones into China, South Korea and Japan. Of all tiger carcasses examined (75), 56 were adults (74.7%) and 19 were young. Twice as many males were killed as females ((38, or 67.9%, versus 18, or 32.1% respectively), even though females are predominant in the wild Amur tiger population. Apparently, females are more cautions and tolerant than males, therefore reducing the number conflicts with man. In settlements they are killed 2.5-3 times less than males. Among the cubs reported killed, the sex ratio was about equal. Slightly less than half of the male tigers analyzed were considered in poor health or had incurred wounds (often from previous shootings), while only 25% of those females examined were considered in poor condition.

It is commonly believed that those animals who come into settlements and attack domestic animals are usually young dispersing animals aged 2-3 years, or old or physically disabled. In our study we did not find such a correlation: young tigers (2-4 years old) attacked domestic animals almost as often as adults (5 years and more). In general, of the tigers attacking domestic animals, females were on average older. There is also no difference in number of visits to settlements and attacks on domestic animals between visually healthy tigers and those starving or somehow injured. Only in winters of especially unfavorable conditions, such as lack of food and deep snow (for example 1984-85 and 1985-86), mostly disabled tigers come to settlements and are killed. Among tigers killed by poachers there are two times as many males as females and almost no injured or weak animals. Additionally, their average age was almost two years more than that of tigers killed in conflicts. Of the 21 tigers that died from non human causes, we were able to investigate 8 (5 males and 3 females) in greater detail. The circumstances of their deaths varied: 3 tigers died from wounds received in fights, one each with a bear, another tiger and a wild boar. Two died of diseases and one each died from poisoning and starvation. Cause of death for one animal was unknown. Most cubs (63%) died of starvation after losing their mother, or were killed by adult males (Table 3).

Prior to 1985 there were no known cases of cannibalism, but through the next seven years 3 such cases were reported involving 6 cubs killed by males. Cubs were killed were up to 6 months old, and some at even older ages. One of these occasions happened on February 26, 1988 in Partizanski District, and its circumstances were studied based on tracks left in the snow. A male tiger (front pad width 11 cm) killed and ate a relatively large male cub (front pad width 9 cm). The fight, which occurred on a road, was short, based on the number of tracks. The cub was killed near a tree at the side of the road with a fatal wound to the neck and front part of the body. The male carried the cub 27 m along the road and then dropped it. Then he moved it again for 240 m to the opposite side of the valley below some spruce trees, where he began to eat it. He left the cub's head, paws, tail, two gnawed shoulders, pieces of skin, fur, pelvis and leg bones. After being disturbed by people, the tiger carried some parts of the remains for a hundred meters to the steep left bank of the river. We cannot attribute this case of cannibalism to a lack of food, because in this area there was a high density of ungulates.

Cubs (mostly yearlings), as well as adults are killed in settlements when they seek food after losing their mother. Some are killed by poachers, and quite often they are trapped in leghold-steel traps set for fur bearing animals. Most situations that involve direct confrontation (such as attacks) were provoked by people. Small gauge bullets, buckshot and even small shot were often found lodged in tiger carcasses. Wounded (and often crippled) tigers become dangerous, as has been described many times (Zhivotchenko 1975, Matyushkin 1985). From all examined tigers, six adults had old wounds. In four cases they were wounded with small gauge bullets or buckshot. Wounds on four of these tigers were likely disabling, and prevented them from hunting ungulates. Of these six tigers, three were killed after aggressive actions and attempted attacks on people; one was killed after attacking and injuring a man; another was killed after an attack on domestic animals; and the last died from the original wounds. Not only are such animals likely to become involved in livestock depredations, they are also likely to hunt people. In many cases involving tiger depredations on domestic animals, conflicts likely wouldn't have occurred if people protected their animals properly. For instance, sometimes fences of deer parks are poorly maintained and predators can freely gain access to the enclosures. In another instance a tiger gained access through a hole in a barbed wire fence to a storehouse where dogs were used as watchdogs. Attracted by these dogs, a tiger entered the area three times in one evening before it actually ate one of the dogs and was then killed. Neither electric lights nor shooting in the air had any effect on the tiger in this case. Tigers also entered the Aleksandrov pig farm near Spassk quite easily through a fence that couldn't even stop pigs from leaving. As a result, about a dozen pigs were killed and a man was injured before the tiger was killed.
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These are the weights based on Vladimir Mazak (1968

Length - M 106-130, F 95-108 Inches
Weight - M 419-675, F 221-368 Pounds
Skull - M 13-15 F 11-13 Inches

Length - M 106-122, F 95.104 Inches
Weight - M 419-569, F 221-353 Pounds
Skull Length M 13-15 F 11-12 Inches

Length - M 101-112, F 91-100 Inches
Weight - M 330-430, F 221-287 Pounds
Skull Length - M 13-14, F 11-12 Inches

South China
Length - M 91-104, F 87-95 Inches
Weight - M 287-386, F 221-254 Pounds
Skull Length - M 13-14, F 11-12 Inches

Length - M 87-100, F 85-91 Inches
Weight - M 221-309, F165-243 Pounds
Skull Length - M 12-13, F 10-12 Inches

Subspecific Variation
In 1968 Vladimir Mazak classified eight subspecies of tigers distinguished by several physical characteristics that include weight, color, and stripe pattern. Northern tigers are larger and lighter in color, southern island forms are smaller and darker. The Sumatran form has the most pronounced ruff around the head. The South China tiger has the fewest stripes; next in line are the Siberian, Bengal and Indochinese tigers; and the island subspecies have the most stripes. The Bali tiger (and to some extent the Javan tiger) had a single horizontal stripe on its forehead, three short double horizontal stripes on its head, and double looped stripes on its flanks and back. These subspecific variations are trivial ecological variables. Until molecular DNA studies establish valid evolutionary divergence within the species, biopolitical boundaries of Asian countries will dictate their nomenclature.
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Body of tiger found near Corbett

16 Dec 2007, 0322 hrs IST,Neha Shukla,TNN

LUCKNOW: Is Corbett going the Gir way? A mutilated tiger body found near Corbett proves that infighting in and around the park is increasing. And, if the recent rise in infighting and death due to the same is an indication to go by, relocation of tigers from Corbett could be a choice coming up in near future.

Corbett is touted as one of the best tiger reserves with good number of tigers present there. The density of tigers is pretty high in the park. But, as has been reported in the recent past, the cases of infighting are increasing in and around the area.

The latest incident is of Wednesday, when a torn and mutilated body of a tiger was found in Raninangal block of Bijnore forest division, near Corbett national park. The death, said the forest officials from the area, was because of infighting between the two tigers.

"After we investigated the matter we got to know that it was a case of infighting probably over a kill, in which adult tiger killed and also ate up the hind parts of the younger one," said Atibal Singh, forest official from Amangarh range in whose territory the incident took place. The postmortem report that came on Saturday and examinations by a panel of doctors proved infighting as the cause of the death. Amangarh range is an area adjoining Corbett national park.

In the past, the instances of infighting among tigers in the park and in adjoining areas have been on the rise. "In Corbett the density of tigers is increasing, consequently there is a rise in the cases of infighting for survival," said Singh.

The fact that is also supported by Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI) an organisation that is assisting forest staff in Corbett Park in conserving wild population there.

"The recent case as has been told by the officials is the cause of infighting. And, in past few years there have been frequent cases reported from the park," said Tito Joseph from the WPSI.

Although infighting among tigers is natural as the wild animal to prove its supremacy over females and to claim a territory as its own tries to drive out the weaker male from the harem (the group that the animal moves in).

The territorial infighting, as guided by wild nature, is more common in core area but the place where the body of a tiger was found is on the periphery of Corbett. This could be an ample indication towards increase in infighting for survival and not just for supremacy.

"Infighting among leopards was also reported from areas adjoining Corbett which certainly necessitates better maintenance of the best national park. Relocation, however, is a far distant choice as of now," added Joseph. Although, officials and experts agree that situation in Corbett is not as complicated as in Gir of Gujarat which houses all the Asiatic lions in India, but timely consideration is needed to maintain the thriving wild population. Director, Corbett Park, despite repeated attempts could not be reached for comments.


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Tiger kills mother, baby elephant

Thursday November 23 2006 10:37 IST

BHUBANESWAR: It was a fight that even surprised the Forest officials of Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR). A duel between a tiger and an elephant in which the big cat prevailed. The tiger reserve rarely has witnessed such incidents in the past although tigers are known to kill elephant calves. Every year, two or three calves are hunted by the tigers in the reserve.

This incident was not any different. A male tiger, trailing a calf, came face to face with its mother in Jadapola in Nara South range of STR.

On Tuesday, the Forest officials detected carcass of the female elephant in the deep forests. There were enough indications of a tiger attack on the carcass. Moreover, officials found pugmarks of the tiger. And the calf, whose presence was evident from the footprints, was missing.

‘We have recorded several incidents in which the calves are made prey for, big cats have a liking for the calves. But what was surprising was that both the mother and the calf were not in their herd. They were isolated which is rare,’ STR Field Director Dr Debabrata Swain said.

The incident is believed to have occurred in the first week of November but was discovered only on Tuesday. The carcass was sent for post-mortem and the finding confirmed a tiger attack.

Swain said Forest guards had been sighting a male Royal Bengal Tiger in the Jadapola area for the past few weeks. That’s the one they think has killed the mother-baby duo.

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Trouble for rhino from poacher and Bengal tiger


Guwahati, March 12: The rhino is being hounded by predators, and not only of the two-legged kind.

Royal Bengal tigers, which usually prey on baby rhinos, have begun killing adult ones in Kaziranga National Park since the last fortnight.

Alarmed by this development, a team of experts from the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun, will arrive at the national park tomorrow on a weeklong visit to survey the “phenomenon”.

Authorities at Kaziranga National Park have also informed the chief conservator of forests of the new trend.

Tigers killed 20 rhinos at Kaziranga last year, while this year eight rhinos have fallen prey to the big cats.

The worrying part is that tigers have started killing full grown rhinos. Earlier it was only the calves the tigers used to attack but now the full grown rhinos are being targeted,” said Bankim Sharma, the divisional forest official of the park.

Last evening, three tigers, probably a mother and her two grown calves, attacked an adult rhino near the East Haldhibari anti-poaching camp in the Kohora range of the park.

“It must have taken several hours for the tigers to nail the rhino. The entire area looked like a war zone with crushed grass and plants. The rhino had probably given up when it got stuck in the mud in a nearby water body,” the forest official said.

Forest officials later retrieved the rhino’s horn.

On February 26, a pregnant rhino was killed by tigers at Rutikhowa beel under Bagori range.

Gunin Saikia, another forest at Kaziranga, said there have been no instances of tigers attacking full grown rhinos till now.

Saikia said female rhinos generally venture out of the park along with their calves at night to escape from tiger attacks, since rhino calves are easy prey for tigers.

“But tigers always keep away from full grown rhinos,” he said.

The divisional forest official said male rhinos usually stay alone and tigers are finding it easier to prey on them than buffaloes, which stay in large groups.

There has been an increase in tiger population in the park, which could be another reason for the attacks on rhinos, he said.

According to the last census conducted in 2000, 86 rhinos were found in Kaziranga.

“There is no doubt that the figure has gone up since then,” the divisional forest official said.

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Tigers in snow leopard land

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7 May, 2008 - Fresh pictures and pugmarks from the Jigme Dorji national park (JDNP) show that royal Bengal tigers in Bhutan are being found at altitudes never seen before. In fact, authorities say that the tigers are going so high that they are overlapping the habitat of the elusive snow leopard.

“We’ve realized that Bhutan is now officially the only country in the world to have tigers at such high altitudes and also the only country where the habitat of the snow leopard and the tiger are overlapping,” said ‘Tiger Sangay’ of the nature conservation division (NCD). Sources say that pugmarks and pictures can be seen between 3,700 to 4,300 m in the latest study.

The study, which started in April 2008, is using 38 strategically placed GPS-marked and infrared-trigger cameras to find out the total number of tigers in the country. At the moment, the study is focused in JDNP and will move to other parks. According to Tiger Sangay, each tiger has a unique stripe.

The study will also extend to get a solid photographic record of the total number of snow leopards in the country. The rough estimate was around 100 but there is now confirmed data that can support this guesstimate. These cats have been known to reside in heights of up to 5,500 m coming down to 2,000 m in the winters.

The implications and reasons for tigers being found at such high altitudes will hopefully emerge from the study. “We may also get data on how the overlapping of territory of these two big cats may be affecting each other, if at all,” said Sangay.

“Global warming with warmer temperatures in the higher reaches is a logical but not confirmed explanation,” said animal specialist Dr Sangay Wangchuk of NCD.

Another possible explanation could also be habitat pressure on tigers forcing them to extend their hunting area upwards with growing habitat disruption at the lower reaches.

Officials also say that the latest data is an indication of the good health of Bhutan’s forests because they allow the tiger to easily reach high places due to continuous forest cover in a diverse landscape. Another explanation, say experts, could be that it may always have been there but it is only now that we are learning about it.

“We’re also hoping to see if tigers at these altitudes have developed any extra features by which we can classify them as being different from their cousins in the plains,” said Sangay. “We’re looking for features like if they’re bigger than the plain version or if they have more fur to deal with the cold.”

He is already looking forward to compiling a comprehensive report on Bhutan’s unique and little known high altitude tigers for scientific journals like Biological Conservation, Journal of Wildlife Management, etc.

Also, an area of interest will be a study on how tigers and snow leopards are affecting each other. “The worst case scenario will be the bigger tiger going higher and minusing out the smaller snow leopard, since they don’t tolerate other predators in their area, but generally we hope that they’ll not impact each other nor come into close contact.” Tigers and snow leopards so far have moved higher and lower, according to season, in winter and summer, but the record altitude of these tigers may also test this theory. Another data emerging is that tigers and snow leopards are also following the migration pattern of domestic yaks and cattle.

“With 300,000 cattle increasingly penetrating more forest, they’re beginning to affect the hunting patterns of these big cats,” said Dr Sangay Wangchuk. Between 2003 to 2006, there were 424 confirmed tiger kills of yaks, cows, horses, bull, mules and sheep.

The last study was done in the Jigme Singye Wangchuck park where cameras were similarly used in 2006 to get data of tigers there. Old data show that 115-150 tigers are found in Bhutan and have been seen in Bumdeling wildlife sanctuary, Thrumshingla national park and also in Manas and Sarpang.

With emerging new data on tigers and snow leopards, Bhutan may be the next frontier of research into unlocking the secrets of these unlikely high altitude competitors.

By Tenzing Lamsang

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Male Siberian Tiger Weights

Here's some more weights from CONFLICTS BETWEEN MAN AND TIGER IN THE RUSSIAN FAR EAST, (first published in Russian in "Bulletin Moskovskogo obshchestva ispytateley Prirody", 1993, v. 98, i. 3)
by Igor G. Nikolaev and Victor G. Yudin

Male Siberian Tiger Weights
1. 166 kg Body Fat - H
2. 192 kg Body Fat - H
3. 136 kg Body Fat - L
4. 170 kg Body Fat - L
5. 150 kg Body Fat - L
6. 149 kg Body Fat - H
7. 175 kg Body Fat - H
8. 171 kg Body Fat - L
9. 180 kg Body Fat - H
10. 168 kg Body Fat - M
11. 130 kg Body Fat - L
12. 178 kg. Body Fat - Not Stated
13. 136 kg Body Fat - S
14. 157 kg Body Fat - S
15. 185 kg Body Fat - L
16. 135 kg Body Fat - H
17. 148 kg Body Fat - Not Stated
18. 178 kg Body Fat - Not Stated
19. 165 kg Body Fat - M
20. 93 kg Body Fat - S
21. 92 kg Body Fat - M
22. 170 kg Body Fat - L
23. 160 kg Body Fat - H
24. 125 kg Body Fat - M
25. 102 kg. Body Fat - L
26. 129 kg Body Fat - S

** Fat index: S - starvation, L - low, M - middle, H - high

(From Table 1. Location, physical status, size and circumstances of deaths of Amur tiger males in the Russian Far East, 1970-1994.)

Overall Body Weight Average = 151.5 kg. (333 pounds)

Body Weight Average of Male Tigers with High Body Fat content = 165.3 kg. (363.7 pounds)

Now if we add 10% on to the above figures to compensate for potential fluid loss after death, est. overall body weight average = 366 pounds, & High body fat content males = (399 pounds)

As for causes of death, only 1 of the 26 Adult males was verified as being killed by another Tiger (intraspecific mortality)

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Tiger Kills Bull Gaur

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