The Bengal Tiger, or Royal Bengal Tiger is a tiger subspecies native to India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan, and has been classified as endangerred by IUCN as the population is estimated at fewer than 2,500 individuals with a decreasing trend. None of the Tiger Conservation Landscapes within the Bengal’s tiger range are large enough to support an effective population size of 250.The Bengal tiger is the most numerous of the tiger subspecies — with populations estimated at 1,706 in India, 200 in Bangladesh, 155 in Nepal and 67–81 in Bhutan. The Royal Bengal tiger is the national animal of India.
Its coat is a yellow to light orange, and the stripes range from dark brown to black; the belly is white, and the tail is white with black rings. A mutation of the Bengal subspecies, the white tiger, has dark brown or reddish brown stripes on a white background, and some are entirely white. Black tigers have tawny, yellow or white stripes on a black background color. The skin of a black tiger, recovered from smugglers, measured 259 cm (102 in) and was displayed at the National Museum of Natural History, in New Delhi. The existence of black tigers without stripes has been reported but not substantiated.
Bengal tigers are defined by three distinct mitochondrial nucleotide sites and 12 unique microsatellite alleles. The pattern of genetic variation in the Bengal tiger corresponds to the premise that these tigers arrived in India approximately 12,000 years ago. This recent history of tigers in the Indian subcontinent is consistent with the lack of tiger fossils from India prior to the late Pleistocene and the absence of tigers from Sri Lanka, which was separated from the subcontinent by rising sea levels in the early Holocene. However, a recent study of two independent fossil finds from Sri Lanka, one dated to approximately 16,500 years ago, tentatively classifies them as being a tige
Behaviour and ecology
Tigers do not live in prides as lions do. They do not live as family units because the male plays no part in raising his offspring. Tigers mark their territory by spraying urine on a branch or leaves or bark of a tree, which leaves a particular scent behind. Tigers also spray urine to attract the opposite sex. When an outside individual comes into contact with the scent, it learns that the territory is occupied by another tiger. Hence, every tiger lives independently in its own territory.
Male Bengal tigers fiercely defend their territory from other tigers, often engaging in serious fighting. Female tigers are less territorial: occasionally a female will share her territory with other females. If a male happens to enter a female’s territory, he will probably mate with her, if she is not already pregnant or has a litter. If she is pregnant or has a litter, he has no choice but to find himself a new territory and another potential mate. Similarly, females entering a male’s territory are known to mate with him. Both males and females become independent of their mother around 18 months old, whereupon the cubs have to establish their own territories and fend for themselves. A male’s territory is larger than a female’s territory.
Great Bengal Tiger is National Symbolic of India
The Bengal tiger has been a national symbol of India since about the 25th Century BCE when it was displayed on the Pashupati Seal of the Indus Valley Civilisation. On the seal, the tiger, being the largest, represents the Yogi Shiva’s people.The tiger was later the symbol of the Chola Empire from 300 CE to 1279 CE and is now designated as the official animal of India.
The Project Tiger initiative launched in 1972 initially reversed the population decline, the decline has resumed in recent years; India’s tiger population decreased from 3,642 in the 1990s to just over 1,400 from 2002 to 2008. Since then, the Indian government has undertaken several steps to reduce the destruction of the Bengal tiger’s natural habitat in India.
In the past, Indian censuses of wild tigers relied on the individual identification of footprints known as pug marks — a method that has been criticized as inaccurate. Using moderncamera trap counting methods, the landmark 2008 national tiger census report estimates only 1,411 adult tigers in India, plus uncensused tigers in the Sundarbans delta mangrove forests.
In May 2008, forest officials at the Ranthambhore National Park in Rajasthan, India spotted 14 tiger cubs. In June 2008, a tiger from Ranthambore was relocated to the Sariska Tiger Reserve, where all tigers had fallen victim to poachers and human encroachments since 2005.
As of June 2009, tigers are found in 37 tiger reserves spread across 17 Indian states