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Life in the Savannah

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Tigers
 
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Tigers are territorial—they live alone in large areas that they defend from other tigers. The ideal tiger territory is a large forested area with rich vegetation for cover, plentiful water to drink and cool off in, and abundant deer, swine, and other large mammals to eat. Tigers can thrive in diverse habitats and climates including hot, tropical rain forests in Sumatra and Southeast Asia; cool oak and pine forest in the Amur River Valley in far eastern Russia; tall grass jungles in India and Nepal; coastal mangrove forests in Bangladesh; and mountain slopes in Bhutan.

All tigers are nearly identical. Their physical and genetical similarities are such as fur color, hunting strategy, and personality. Many tigers live in mailand, but some live on islands outside of countries. However, in the past, the tigers have been divided into subspecies, even though it is not neccessary to do so because of their similarities. The subspecies are:

  • Caspian tiger (Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, and the Central Asiatic region of Russia); extinct in 1950's
  • Javan tiger (island of Java); extinct in 1970's
  • Bali tiger (island of Bali); extinct in 1930's
  • Amur tiger (also known as Siberian tiger)
  • Bengal tiger (also known as Indian tiger)
  • Sumatrun tiger
  • Indochinese tiger
  • China tiger

Of 8 subspecies, only 5 remain, but a few of the species are in danger of becoming extinct.

Tigers typically reach a shoulder height of 3 ft and measure from 7 to 10 ft from head to rear end. The thick, furred tail extends about 1 m. Tigers range in size from the small Sumatrans, in which females weigh 165 to 240 lb and males weigh 220 to 310 lb, to the largest Bengal tigers, in which females weigh 220 to 350 lb and males weigh 400 to 570 lb. The largest tigers are the largest of all cats, but since there is much variation in tiger size, some lions are bigger than some tigers.

Tigers gaurd large areas. Females must have territory with plenty of prey to nurse their young. Except for a mother and her cubs, and the few days that males and females come together to mate, tigers generally live and hunt alone. Tigers communicate with other tigers in their area through a variety of methods. Roaring broadcasts the news of a tiger’s presence and warns other tigers to stay away. Tigers use scent marks by spraying urine, dropping feces, and rubbing scent glands on trees and other objects. Scent marks are often coupled with visual signposts, such as scratch marks on trees. These smells and signs are especially concentrated at territorial boundaries and they warn other tigers of the same sex to stay out of the territory or risk a fight. Marking also enables tigers to track other tigers in an area, enabling neighbors to get to know one another through these signs. For example, a female becomes familiar with the signs of other females whose territories about hers—in many cases a neighbor may be her daughter. Males and females within an overlapping territory learn to recognize each other through these signs, and they adjust their movements to avoid being in the same area at the same time, except when mating.

Tigers hunt alone, primarily between dusk and dawn, traveling 6 to 20 miles in a night in search of prey. They specialize in killing wild boar and other swine, and medium to large deer such as red deer, chital, and sambar. In India and Nepal tigers hunt gaur, a huge wild cattle weighing up to 2,200 lb. Tigers go out of their way to kill the largest prey available and only adult Asian elephants and greater one-horned rhinoceros are safe from tigers, although tigers do kill rhinoceros and elephant calves. Tigers also kill domestic animals such as cows and goats. Occasionally tigers kill people, but usually only if other prey is scarce or the tigers are too sick or injured to catch other prey.

Tigers rely on stealth to stalk their prey. They use cover such as trees, tall grass, or other vegetation to hide in while they stalk prey. Habitats where forest is interspersed with small clearings are ideal. In a typical hunt, a tiger slowly and silently stalks an animal until the tiger is about 30 ft away. The tiger then lunges in a lightning-fast rush to close the gap, grabbing the animal in its forepaws and wrestling it to the ground. It finally kills the animal by sinking its teeth into the animal’s throat or neck, much like the lion.

After dragging the carcass to a secluded spot, the tiger eats. A tiger consumes 16 kg (35 lbs) of meat on an average night, and returns to the carcass nightly until the meat is gone, usually in two to three days. On average, a tiger must kill about once every eight days. A female with growing cubs to feed may kill every five to six days. Catching a meal is not easy even for such a superb predator: A tiger makes a successful kill only once in every 10 to 20 hunts.


Bibliography:
 
Microsoft® Encarta® Reference Library 2003. © 1993-2002 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
 
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