The Bengal Tiger

The magnificent, strong and charismatic Bengal Tiger is found primarily in India. It is the most numerous of all tiger subspecies, with more than 2,500* left in the wild.

Small numbers of Bengals are also found in Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, China and Myanmar.

Cat of the Month ~ April 2018
Jai, Indias most famous Bengal Tiger in the Forest of Maharashtra.

Photograph: ©Unknown, from the imgur.com website

Since April 1973 The Bengal Tiger has been the national animal of both India and Bangladesh (so declared with the initiation of ‘Project Tiger’, a scheme to protect the tigers in India). Prior to this, the Lion was the national animal of India.

Project Tiger saw the creation of India’s many tiger reserves and helped to stabilize a serious decline in numbers. Sadly, poaching and loss of habitat are still major threats to this endagered feline.

It has been shown that the Bengal tiger arrived in the Indian subcontinent around 12,000 years ago, but it still ranks among the biggest wild cats alive today.

Male Bengals have an average total length of 270 to 310 cm including the tail, while females measure 240 to 265 cm on average. The tail is typically 85 to 110 cm long, and on average, tigers are 90 to 110 cm in height at the shoulders. The weight of males ranges from 180 to 258 kg (397 to 569 lb), while that of the females ranges from 100 to 160 kg (220 to 350 lb). Thus, the Bengal tiger rivals the Amur tiger in average weight. The smallest recorded weights for Bengal tigers are from the Bangladesh Sundarbans, where adult females are 75 to 80 kg (165 to 176 lb).

The tiger has exceptionally large teeth. Its canines are 7.5 to 10 cm long and are in fact the longest amongst all cats of the world.

India’s upcoming ‘All India Tiger Estimation 2018’ is a hi-tech initiative to estimate the number of tigers across the country.

The survey is the fourth of its kind and will provide data based on the results of using an Android smart phone App. The plan is to digitize data records and eliminate the (previously) manual process of recording, which is slow and known to be prone to errors. The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) developed the app and named it ‘Monitoring System for Tiger-Intensive Protection and Ecological Status’ or M-STrIPES.

In the Indian subcontinent, tigers inhabit tropical moist evergreen forests, tropical dry forests, moist deciduous forests, mangroves, subtropical and temperate upland forests and alluvial grasslands. Today, the best examples of this habitat type are limited to a few areas at the base of the outer foothills of the Himalayas including the Tiger Conservation Units (TCUs) of Rajaji-Corbett, Bardia-Banke, and the transboundary TCUs Chitwan-Parsa-Valmiki, Dudhwa-Kailali and Shuklaphanta-Kishanpur. Tiger densities in these TCUs are high, in part because of the extraordinary abundance of prey species available.

The Bengal tigers in the Sundarbans in India and Bangladesh are the only tigers in the world inhabiting mangrove forests. The population in the Indian Sundarbans is estimated as 70 tigers in total. In addition to the Indian and Bangladesh tiger populations, other notable populations are to be found in Bhutan and Nepal regions.

The basic social unit of the tiger is the elemental one of mother and offspring. Adult animals congregate only on an occasional and transitory basis when special conditions permit, such as plentiful supply of food. Otherwise they lead solitary lives, hunting individually for the dispersed forest and tall grassland prey animals. They establish and maintain home ranges but must always have access to other tigers (especially those of the opposite sex). Tigers sharing the same ground are well aware of each other’s movements and activities.

Mother and cubs enjoying a dip in Ranthambore, India.

Photograph: Andy Rouse/Rex/Rex USA

The tiger is a carnivore. It prefers hunting large ungulates such as chital, sambar, gaur, and to a lesser extent also barasingha, water buffalo, nilgai, serow and takin. Among the medium-sized prey species it frequently kills wild boar, and occasionally hog deer, muntjac and grey langur. Small prey species such as porcupine, hares and peafowl form a very small part in its diet. Because of the encroachment of humans into tiger habitat, it also preys on domestic livestock.

The nature of the tiger’s hunting method and prey availability results in a “feast or famine” feeding style: they often consume 18–40 kilograms (40–88 lb) of meat at one time. Bengal tigers occasionally hunt and kill predators such as Indian leopard, Indian wolf, Indian jackal, fox, crocodiles, Asiatic black bear, sloth bear, and dhole. They rarely attack adult Indian elephant and Indian rhinoceros, but such extraordinarily rare events have been recorded. In Kaziranga National Park, tigers killed 20 rhinoceros in 2007. If injured, old or weak, or regular prey species are becoming scarce, tigers also attack humans and become man-eaters.

The tiger in India has no definite mating and birth seasons. Most young are born in December and April. Young have also been found in March, May, October and November. In the 1960s, certain aspects of tiger behaviour at Kanha National Park indicated that the peak of sexual activity was from November to about February, with some mating probably occurring throughout the year.

Males reach maturity at 4–5 years of age, and females at 3–4 years. A Bengal comes into heat at intervals of about 3–9 weeks, and is receptive for 3–6 days. After a gestation period of 104–106 days, 1–4 cubs are born in a shelter situated in tall grass, thick bush or in caves. Newborn cubs weigh 780 to 1,600 g (1.72 to 3.53 lb) and they have a thick wooly fur that is shed after 3.5–5 months. Their eyes and ears are closed. Their milk teeth start to erupt at about 2–3 weeks after birth, and are slowly replaced by permanent dentition from 8.5–9.5 weeks of age onwards. They suckle for 3–6 months, and begin to eat small amounts of solid food at about 2 months of age. At this time, they follow their mother on her hunting expeditions and begin to take part in hunting at 5–6 months of age. At the age of 2–3 years, they slowly start to separate from the family group and become transient — looking out for an area, where they can establish their own territory. Young males move further away from their mother’s territory than young females. Once the family group has split, the mother comes into heat again.

They occupied home ranges of 16 to 31 km2 (6.2 to 12.0 sq mi). The home ranges occupied by adult male residents tend to be mutually exclusive, even though one of these residents may tolerate a transient or sub-adult male at least for a time. A male tiger keeps a large territory in order to include the home ranges of several females within its bounds.

Threats

Over the past century tiger numbers have fallen dramatically, with a decreasing population trend. None of the Tiger Conservation Landscapes within the Bengal tiger range is large enough to support an effective population size of 250 individuals. Habitat losses and the extremely large-scale incidences of poaching are serious threats to the species’ survival.

Shocking statistic of fall in tiger range since 1918.

Source: National Geographic

The most significant immediate threat to the existence of wild tiger populations is the illegal trade in poached skins and body parts between India, Nepal and China. The governments of these countries have failed to implement adequate enforcement response, and wildlife crime remained a low priority in terms of political commitment and investment for years. There are well-organised gangs of professional poachers, who move from place to place and set up camp in vulnerable areas. Skins are rough-cured in the field and handed over to dealers, who send them for further treatment to Indian tanning centres.

The illicit demand for bones and body parts from wild tigers for use in Traditional Chinese medicine is the reason for the unrelenting poaching pressure on tigers on the Indian subcontinent. For at least a thousand years, tiger bones have been an ingredient in traditional medicines that are prescribed as a muscle strengthener and treatment for rheumatism and body pain.[69]

Human and tiger confrontations have been common on the Indian Subcontinent for many years. At the beginning of the 19th century tigers were so numerous it seemed to be a question as to whether man or tiger would survive. At this time it became the official policy to encourage the killing of tigers as rapidly as possible, rewards being paid for their destruction in many localities. In the latter half of the 19th century, marauding tigers began to take a toll of human life. These animals were pushed into marginal habitat, where tigers had formerly not been known, or where they existed only in very low density.

More recently in the Sundarbans region (for example), 10 out of 13 man-eaters recorded in the 1970s were males, and they accounted for 86% of the victims. These man-eaters have been grouped into the confirmed or dedicated ones who go hunting especially for human prey; and the opportunistic ones, who do not search for humans but will, if they encounter a man, attack, kill and devour him. Between 1999 and 2001, the highest concentration of tiger attacks on people occurred in the northern and western boundaries of the Bangladesh Sundarbans. Most people were attacked in the mornings while collecting fuel wood, timber, or other raw materials, or while fishing.

Conservation

The Bengal Tiger has been listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List Since 2008. It is threatened by poaching, loss of its native habitat due to farming and by construction projects. An area of special interest lies in the “Terai Arc Landscape” in the Himalayan foothills of northern India and southern Nepal, where 11 protected areas composed of dry forest foothills and tall-grass savannas harbor tigers in a 49,000 square kilometres (19,000 sq mi) landscape. The goals are to manage tigers as a single metapopulation, the dispersal of which between core refuges can help maintain genetic, demographic, and ecological integrity, and to ensure that species and habitat conservation becomes mainstreamed into the rural development agenda. In Nepal a community-based tourism model has been developed with a strong emphasis on sharing benefits with local people and on the regeneration of degraded forests. The approach has been successful in reducing poaching, restoring habitats, and creating a local constituency for conservation.

WWF partnered with Leonardo DiCaprio to form a global campaign, “Save Tigers Now”, with the ambitious goal of building political, financial and public support to double the wild tiger population by 2022.Save Tigers Now started its campaign in 12 different WWF Tiger priority landscapes, since May 2010.

If you would like to show your concern please sign the petition here. You just need an email address, and dont need to add your postcode or D.O.B. as requested.

At the time of writing:

Jai the tiger has been reported missing (since July 2016)

The results of the 2018 Tiger Survey have not yet been issued.

Sources: Worldwildlife.org, Indiatimes.com, Wikipedia.org & others

Cat Soohorang of PyeongChang

Cat of the Month ~ February 2018

Soohorang the cat is the Olympic Winter Games mascot. He is the Official mascot of the 2018 Winter Olympics (9-25 Feb) and of the Paralympics (9-18 Mar) in PyeongChang, South Korea.

Soohorang, mascot of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games
Soohorang, the mascot of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games
Photograph: © www.olympic.org

Soohorang, the Olympic mascot, made his debut in July 2017, during Olympic events in both Seoul and PyeongChang. Gunilla Lindberg, Chair of the IOC Coordination Commission for the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, said of choosing a white tiger to be the 2018 Olympic mascot,

It’s a beautiful animal, strongly associated with Korean culture. It also symbolises the close link between the Olympic Winter Games and the natural environment. I’m sure the new mascot will be very popular with Koreans and people around the world.

Athletes who win medals at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics are honored in two separate ceremonies, according to the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The first one happens directly after the event, and is when the athletes get their stuffed tiger….”instead of flowers, medalists are being given a doll of the Games’ mascot Soohorang.” The origin of the motif is the famous (and endangered) South Korean white tiger. The white tiger has been long considered Korea’s guardian animal.

“Sooho”, meaning protection in Korean, symbolises the protection offered to the athletes, spectators and other participants of the 2018 Games.

“Rang” comes from the middle letter of “Ho-rang-i”, the Korean word for “tiger,” and is also the last letter of “Jeong-seon A-ri-rang”,

a cherished traditional folk song of Gangwon Province, where the Games will be held.

Soohorang not only has a challenging spirit and passion, but is also a trustworthy friend who protects the athletes, spectators and all the participants of the Olympic Games.

Well worth being cat of the month then Eh Osc?

And just to round this all off nicely (we hope) here are a few more images relating to our friendly cat Soohorang.

A Korean White Tiger
A real majestic white tiger
Photograph: © Koreaboo
Red Gerard the slopestyle Gold medallist, holds his own Soohorang doll
Red Gerard the Slopestyle Gold medallist holds his own Soohorang doll ~ And what a run it was!
Photograph: © www.olympic.org
Brad Barket/Getty Images
A tourist needs a selfie with the said cat
Photograph: © Brad Barket/Getty Images
soohorang and bandabi
Soohorang with his companion Bandabi (Mascot of the PyeongChang Paralympics)
Photograph: © www.olympic.org
olympic rings logo

Siberian

The Siberian is a long haired breed of cat. Known to be an exceptionally high jumper, the Siberian is a strong and powerfully built cat, with well proportioned characteristics that include strong hindquarters and large stomachs. They typically weigh between 15-20 (6.8-9.1 kg) pounds for the males, or 10-15 pounds (4.5-6.8 Kg) for females. They are shorter and stockier than Maine Coon cats and Norwegian Forest Cats even though they can attain approximately the same weight.
Siberian
Siberian Long Haired Cat ~ A high jumper!
Photo: unknown source
Siberians typically attain their full growth more slowly, over their first 5 years. The females weigh less than the males. They are extremely agile and athletic. Their muscles are mighty, outstanding and powerful. The back is medium and slightly lower in front than in the hind, but appears horizontal when in motion. A barrel shaped, muscular torso, develops with age. The hind legs, when straightened, are slightly longer than the forelegs. The paws are round, big and quite powerful. The overall appearance should be one of great strength and power; the facial expression is quite sweet. The general impression is one of roundness and circles. Personality Siberians are generally intelligent, playful, affectionate and loyal,leading many to describe their character as dog-like. Their fur is plush, can have a wide range of coloration (including points), and does not have a tendency to mat. Siberian fur is also textured, medium-long and usually tabby patterned. Siberians have a triple coat. There should be an abundant ruff setting off the large, impressive head. There is a tight undercoat, thicker in cold weather. Allow for warm weather coats. The hair may thicken to curls on the belly and britches, but a wavy coat is not characteristic. The skin may have a bluish cast. Clear strong colors and patterns are desirable, but are secondary to type. When breeding on average, a Siberian cat’s litter consists of five kittens. Ancestry While Siberians are a fairly recent introduction to the US(1990) and thus relatively rare, though popular, the breed can be seen in Russian paintings and writings hundreds of years old. This sets them apart from breeds that are the result of fairly recent selective breeding. There is an increasing interest in Siberians worldwide. The Siberian breed is now recognized by most cat organizations, which accept Siberians of any color (including color points) for competition. This includes recognition in the major cat registries such as TICA and Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA), as well as acceptance in the CFA Championship class beginning on February 6th, 2006. Distinguishing FeaturesThe large, almost round eyes are at least one eye width apart with the outer corner slightly angled toward the lower base of the ear. There is no relationship between eye color and coat color/pattern, however, as with all pointed cats the eye color is blue with pointed colors The ears are medium-large, wide and set as much on the sides of the head as on the top; ideal position is 1 to 1-1/2 ear widths apart. The tips are rounded and the ear tilts forward. Ear furnishings are desirable. Hair over the back of the ears is short and thin; from the middle of the ear, the furnishings become longer and cover the base completely. The tail is medium length, wide at the base, blunt at the tip without thickening or kinks, evenly and thickly furnished. The head is a modified wedge of medium size with rounded contours, broader at the skull and narrowing slightly to a full rounded muzzle with well-rounded chin. There may be a slight muzzle curvature, but the transition between the side of the head and the muzzle is gentle and inconspicuous. The cheek bones are neither high set nor prominent. There should be a good distance between the ears and eyes. The top of the head is flat, with a gentle nose curvature of a gentle slope from the forehead to the nose and a slight concave curvature before the tip. The neck is medium, rounded, substantial, and very well-muscled, siberians have the appearance of no neck. There exists controversy concerning color point Siberians. Some consider them to be a separate breed called ‘Neva Masquerade’, but so far no major cat registry has accepted them as a separate breed. They are considered to be a color division of the Siberian breed.

Tigers and Snowmen

Cat of the Month ~ January 2013
Longleat Tiger
Tiger meets snowmen
All Photographs: https://www.longleat.co.uk

Longleat’s four Amur (Siberian) Tigers were fascinated by the deep snow outside and were always going to make the most of ‘snow day’ when it came around.

…So where are these snowmen you promised?…

… but when their keepers decided to build some snowmen, things got more exciting and they just had to go in to investigate….

…Look at me guys,….. hey this is fun

So what were these strange white creatures with orange noses…..

…How about a little hug then?…
Photograph: https://www.longleat.co.uk

So inquisitive were the four handsome beasts that they caused the fragile snowmen to collapse…..

…Whats that Camera doing in there?…

…and so, it was off to explore the rest of their snow bound enclosure before retiring to a snug warm pen for the evening.

…nice old tree trunk this…
…Hey I’m cat of the month you know?…
… oi, what are you up too?.. this is a moggies only website….oh you’re sooo cute so its o.k. I guess

Heres the video of the whole episode …or head over to the Longleat website for these and many other wonderful animals.

And what’s an Amur Tiger? you might ask. Well here’s a pretty concise article on the National Geographic website.

White tiger cubs born in the Ukraine

A white tigeress named named Tigrulya gave birth to four tiger cubs in a Yalta zoo on the seventh of May. The newborns are in good health and are being taken care of by staff at the Skazka Zoo in southern Ukraine.
Tigress Tigrulya showing off one of her cubs
Photograph: AP
The name of the mother tiger, Tigrulya, was chosen to honour the former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko. A contest is now being held to name the four newborn cubs.
four tiger cubs
Four beautiful cubs, snug in a wooden basket
Photograph: AP
It is very rare that four white tigers are born in a single litter and what is more one of the cubs is an albino with no striped markings on his body at all. Previously (on the 4th August 2010) a litter of rare white tiger cubs were born at a zoo in northern Germany. These events are extremely important as fewer than 250 white tigers exist worldwide, most of them in captivity. It is said that less than one hundred white tigers exist in the wild.

White Tiger

Cat of the Month ~ January 2012
white tiger image
The White Tiger, rarely seen in the wild.
Photograph: animal-wildlife.blogspot.com

White tigers are basically a colour variant of the Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris bengalensis), and are rarely found in the wild. It is though, reported as having been seen in the wild from time to time in the Assam, Bengal, and Bihar regions of India and especially from the former State of Rewa (in fact home to the very first white tiger). It is believed that all white tigers in captivity in the world today are the descendants of this single white tiger, caught (and named ‘Mohan’) by the Maharajah of Rewa in the year 1951.

The White Tiger is almost identical to the now famous Royal Bengal Tiger except for a genetic mutation that causes a change in the colour of the fur and eyes. The origin of the Bengal Tiger is believed to be from the region we know today as Siberia. From there, these Siberian Big Cats (Panthera tigris altaica) migrated south over the course of thousands of years (and as the climate of their native territory became colder). Today Asia, India and Malaysia all are home to tigers (some of which are white due to genetic mutation), although their numbers are dwindling.

White tigers are only born when two tigers that both carry the unusual gene for white colouring, mate. Unfortunately there are many forced breeding programs currently in progress which are detrimental to those tigers bred in captivity. This is indeed often a sad tale which is outlined in the following very serious and informative article [White Tigers – Conserving Misery]. (Not for the very young or easily upset, Ed)

Where present, white (and other) Bengal tigers will be found regions of dense undergrowth and forested areas where they can camouflage themselves and ambush their prey.

Though, today white tigers are mostly confined in zoos (for example the Nandan Kanan Zoo in Orissa, India) they are also found in many National parks, such as those in India and the Far East.