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Showing posts from September, 2011

Tiger prey important in tiger survival

Perhaps the most important factors in the survival of the tiger are loss of habitat and poaching . But a close second would be loss of prey. Poaching is news worthy and loss of habitat is all about the reserves and how they seem to be failing. But loss of the tiger’s prey is in the background and more subtle. Tiger prey densities can be measured but this task is less likely to be carried out than assessing tiger population numbers , which have been error prone or sometimes inflated for political reasons. The argument goes that even in small reserves, provided the prey base is suitable in numbers and size, the tiger population can persist. Under 3000 square kilometres for a reserve is considered small. All but one Bengal tiger reserve is small under that criteria. The effective size of the reserve depends on the quality of the landscape and habitat and how effective it is in supporting prey animals. Tigers depend on large prey. A tiger cannot live on small prey only. Large ungulate

South China Tiger Rewilding

How can we reintroduce captive South China tigers into the wild in China, if as a Chinese expert says, the captive South China tigers are not purebred. They are hybrids; no longer a subspecies of tiger but a "generic" tiger. If the expert is correct, the game is over and the South China tiger has been persecuted to extinction. Let's get used to it and get over it. This post came to mind because the Feline Conservation Federation magazine mentions that at the last convention, the keynote speaker, Li Quan, spoke of her "brave and unique" crusade to rewild the South China tiger. There is a webpage on this subject . Can someone enlighten me on this? Clearly Li Quan believes that this subspecies of tiger still exists. Even if it does what chance of the tiger surviving in the wild in China? I am not optimistic about that considering it would be extremely rare and desirable...cut up for the medicine market.

Tiger Numbers by State, USA

Here is a list of tiger numbers by state in the United States that are living in USDA licensed facilities. The qualifying factor is more than 50 tigers. See a post about the number of tigers in Texas . I'll leave you to chew on the figures that come from Lynn Culver of the Feline Conservation Federation based on a request to the USDA-APHIS under the Freedom of Information Act.

How Many Tigers in Texas?

Anecdotal evidence suggests or claims that there are around 5,000 tigers in captivity in Texas, USA. If that were true there would be far more tigers in Texas than there are in the wild in the rest of the world. It is something that is constantly recited on the internet. Is it true? Well we don't know for sure it seems because there is no requirement for individual people who keep a tiger or tigers in captivity as a sort of pet to register the tiger and facility with the authorities if the tiger is a "generic" tiger. Generic means a tiger of no specific subspecies. In other words a hybrid tiger. Lots of tigers even those managed by specialist people and so called experts are hybrid or generic tigers. However, we do know the number of tigers that are in USDA licensed facilities (USDA is the United States Department of Agriculture) in Texas. Lynn Culver the executive director of the Feline Conservation Federation requested numbers from the USDA-APHIS office under the

Counting Tigers

Counting tigers is notoriously difficult, in part because they are very secretive. They need to be to survive the activities of people. "Subjective judgments" have to be made. When you do that self serving interests can get in the way of making good judgments! The tiger count in India was overestimated at one time and it came as a shock when the figure was revised downward. It is almost possible to image the scenario whereby the tiger becomes extinct in the wild without people knowing about it. In the old days counting tigers was carried out by pug marks and scats. "Pug marks" are the footprint of an animal. The word "pug" means "foot" in Hindi. "Scats" are fecal droppings. Camera traps are also used. These are cameras mounted on trees, rocks and such objects which fire off when a tiger passes in front of it. The positioning of the camera has to be assessed accurately and with wisdom. Both camera traps and radio collars are relia

The Life Story of a Tigress

It is interesting to view the tiger at an individual level rather than globally or as a species. You can learn something about the tiger as a species that way that you cannot learn when you see the bigger picture. Charles McDougal, an author of the book: Great Cats - Majestic Creatures of the Wild had this opportunity. He writes that he was able to "document highlights" in the life history of a tigress named Chuchchi. I would just like to recite those highlights here if I may, on the internet. Chuchchi was born sometime before 1972 and had her first cubs in June of 1975. She was known to have produced five litters and 16 offspring but others may have gone unrecorded. Eleven of the cubs survived to adulthood - to the age where they can disperse to find their own home range. As is usually with female tigers, three of the female offspring found home territory close to the natal range (mother's territory). One was able to establish a territory because the resident female

World Tiger Populations

Here's a table showing world tiger populations at the date of this post: Please note that counting the number of wildcats, whatever the species or subspecies, has in the past been notoriously unrealiable. The process is better managed now, probably because of the increased use of camera traps (cameras that fire off on movement in front of the camera). But there is still political interference I would argue. However, these figures, as you can see go back to 2004 at best. That is 7 years ago and quite a lot can happen in 7 years in respect of tiger populations particularly in relation to the tigers in south Asia where habitat (forest) is being consistently eroded for commercial reasons. Human population size and growth is still high in India and Bangladesh. The Siberian tiger population is stable but fertility is poor amongst the tigers resulting in an effective population in the far east of Russia, in terms of reproduction, of 14 individuals .

Bengal Tiger Populations Sunderbans

These are Bengal tiger population figures for the Sunderbans Tiger Reserve and adjacent area in West Bengal, the South 24 Parganas, West Bengal, India. This is a map of South 24 Parganas, West Bengal, India: View Larger Map And this is a map of the Sunderbans, a large mangrove swamp and one of the largest Bengal tiger reserves: View Larger Map You can see and read more about the Indian Bengal tiger reserves if you wish.

Tiger Stripes

How many stripes do tigers have? Well it depends on the subspecies. I don't have figures for the whole of the cat but for the flank area. Here they are: The source material is: Riding the tiger: tiger conservation in human-dominated landscapes By John Seidensticker and the authors obtained the information from the National History Museum and from photographs in Maz├ík (1996). Great Cats by edited by Seidensticker and Lumpkin says that the Chinese tiger has the fewest stripes. Next fewest are on the Amur tiger then the Bengal tiger, then the Indochinese tiger. The island subspecies have the most stripes.

How Tigers Kill

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Tigers use two techniques to kill prey depending on prey size. Image by  Gerhard G.  from  Pixabay   Small Prey Small animals are usually killed with a bite to the back of the neck. This is mirrored in the killing technique of domestic cats (a bit to the nape of the neck severing the spinal cord). A canine tooth (the large teeth at either side of the mouth at the front) is inserted between the vertebrae forcing them apart which severs the spinal cord. This is a precise action. In domestic cats the whiskers play a significant role in feeling the position to bite especially in the dark. Cats "have numerous mechanoreceptors associated with the canines". It is thought that the tiger can feel with the canine teeth to position them between the vertebrae. The jaws contract very fast. Perhaps the jaws contract and expand to let the tips of the canines position and reposition by feel until the correct location is found. The success rare concerning positioning is high but no

South China Tiger

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I have said that the South China tiger subspecies ( Panthera tigris amoyensis ) is totally extinct - captive or wild . That may be a rash statement but it is based on sensible thought and real information. As at 2002, on the publication of the Sunquist's renown Wild Cats Of The World , of the five-remaining subspecies of the tiger (I say it's four now) the South China tiger was the most endangered. Tiger farm - Photo by International Tiger Coalition The decline in population was rapid at the end. In 1949 it was thought that there were 4,000 individuals. However, this fantastic animal was "declared a pest" and mercilessly persecuted. I can understand one aspect of this. The tiger is hard to live with because it is a very large and a potentially dangerous animal. Humankind has great difficulty sharing the planet with it. But the main reason for its decline is Chinese medicine. Please note that I am not being judgemental. I am simply describing what has gone o

Javan Tiger

What caused the extinction of the Javan tiger? It is really a story about the usual culprit - humans. In the 1800s tigers were widespread in Java. The forests of Java were the tiger's habitat. The forests were "converted to teak" (1). So the tiger's habitat was despoiled by people. The lost of tiger habitat forced the Javan tiger to find sanctuary in inaccessible places on the island. By the 1970 the tiger lived on the southeast coast of Java on the Meru-Betiri Reserve. The reserve was not good tiger habitat. Deer, the prey of tigers, was hunted. Hunting of deer in combination with rapid human population growth lead to a rapidly declining deer population. By the 1950s deer could only be found outside reserves or sanctuaries. And these places were few in number. Another prime tiger prey, the wild boar was slaughtered under government directive by poisoning.  The only abundant prey for the tiger was primates with very low boar numbers. Javan tigers at this tim

Caspian Tiger

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Why did the Caspian tiger become extinct? Uhmm, we really only have to look at what is going on today. But how, specifically, did we lose the Caspian tiger? The Caspian tiger did not populate the area densely but in and around water courses and where there was water. The range of the Caspian tiger was approximately that of its prime prey the cervids, examples of which are red and roe deer and the wild boar. Caspian tiger. Photo: Wikipedia. He looks overweight due to his captivity. He looks very heavy. The DNA of the Caspian tiger is very close to that of the Siberian tiger apparently. The beginning of the end for this tiger was the occupation of the region by Russians. The Russians cultivated the reedbeds to agricultural land (growing cotton), thereby despoiling the tiger's habitat and hunted the tiger and its prey, the wild boar, that helped to support the tiger. Colonisation of the area was facilitated by the river systems. The tiger was then made vulnerable to the activities o

Bengal Tiger Prey

This is a chart showing the Bengal tiger prey profile for the Nagarhole National Park (Nagarhole is sometimes spelled "Nagarole"). The data was first published in 1995. Tiger prey is also hunted, poached or lost in some other way and therefore the profile as at the date of this post may be somewhat different. The source of the information is Wild Cats Of The World table 64 (authors: Mel and Fiona Sunquist). The authors of this fine work obtained the information from "Prey selection by tiger, leopard and dhole in tropical forests" by Karanth KU and ME Sunquist. Nagarhole NP is in the southwest of India. See all the tiger reserves of India .

Why does a captive tigress kill her mate?

Why does a captive tigress kill her mate? At a Texas zoo in El Paso a female Malayan tiger, Seri, killed her mate, Wzui, who we are told had a pleasant personality. We are told that Wuzi liked another tigress as well as Seri. Both Seri and Wuzi were on loan from other zoos. The reason given by the authorities is that Seri was jealous of the other female. Why then did she kill the her male mate? There is no record of a tigress killing her mate in the reference works that I have. However, we are told that during times of social flux serious fights may occur between females. Also tiger forced together unnaturally are more likely to be stresses and fight. Of course the usual scenario is male tigers fighting over a female. Or male tigers fighting sometimes to the death over territory. This usually occurs when a young male is looking for his own home range and there is not enough space. This can happen on small tiger reserves. Neither of these situations existed in this case. My pers

Blue Tigers

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Artists impression of what a blue tiger might look like The image is from Wikimedia Commons, licensed for use here. There is no reference to blue tigers in the well-respected book on wildcats, Wild Cats of the World And there are no specimens or hard records of blue tigers. There have been occasional sightings however. They appear to concern the South China tiger, which I say is now extinct and the Siberian tiger in Korea (there are question marks as to whether there are any left in Korea). The most famous sighting was apparently in 1910 by Methodist missionary Harry R. Caldwell in the Fujian Province of China. The blue tiger is also referred to as the Maltese tiger. This is arguably confusing as there are no wild tigers in Malta. The word "Maltese" refers to the "Maltese locus" a position on a chromosome of a gene that causes dilution of the color of the fur . The pigment granules in the hair strands are enlarged and deposited unevenly in the individual hai

Black Tiger

Melanism is well known in wild cats. Servals are not uncommonly melanistic on the high plains and you can see a melanistic Geoffroy's cat on this page with pictures of a melanistic Chausie , a wildcat hybrid. On this page you can see a melanistic F4 Savannah cat. The " black panther " is in fact a large melanistic wild cat. Mel and Fiona Sunquist in Wild Cats Of The World (published 2002) say that there are reports of black tigers. But they also say that there are no skins or specimens of black tigers in museums etc.. They refer to three records of black tigers. They also refer to these tigers as "melanistic" while the Wikipedia authors call the process that causes a tiger to become black as pseudo-melanism. They argue that the black tiger is black because by force of a genetic mutation the black stripes of the tiger merge together. If a cat is genuinely melanistic the background colour (to the black stripes) becomes charcoal black (and sometimes brown) due

An Extraordinary Leap by a Tiger

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The tiger has extraordinary athleticism and courage. Here is a verbatim account from a tiger hunt that took place in and around the 1850s. In those days shooting at tigers was commonplace. It makes me admire the tiger hugely but detest the human in equal measure. "Lieutenant Rice relates an anecdote of an extraordinary leap made by a tigress. He happened to be near the city Bhampoora, and was preparing to examine a large ravine in the vicinity, when word was brought back that a tigress had been seen creeping out of a thick patch of cover that had already been beaten. The beast had cunningly remained hidden in spite of the noise made by the men; and, thinking the danger was over, was attempting to sneak off unobserved to some distant jungle, when she was espied by a man who had been stationed near the spot as a look-out. Lieutenant Rice and his companion took up their position on the slope of a hill, and sent the sent the beaters round the opposite side for the purpose of driving

How Much Do Tigers Eat?

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An adult tiger eats from 18 to 27 kilograms of food a night (40 - 60 pounds). Other examples of how much tigers eat at one sitting or during one day are as follows: A male tiger ate 35 kilograms of flesh in one night (77 lbs). A tigress consumed 30 kilograms of flesh at one sitting (an adult chital). It took her from mid-morning on one day to the morning of the next day to do it. A tigress and and two young ate 102 kilograms (225 pounds) of flesh in two days (17 kgs per animal per day) One large buffalo plus an adult cow were eaten in six days by four tigers. The maximum a tiger can eat over 24 hours is a fifth of its body weight which for a large male equals 45 kgs. At the end of eating the carcass of the prey, it will be decomposing.  The flesh of a carcass decomposes in two days in hot weather. Tigers will eat putrified flesh covered in maggots and when finishing a large carcass tigers may spend more than half their time eating decomposing flesh. Meat putrefies in a couple of d

Tiger Cartoon Characters

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Photo is copyright protected please note This is a change. Here is a complete list of tiger cartoon characters: Baby Puss in Dino the Dinosaur Cool Cat Cringer (in Spirit) Hobbes Mr Tawky Tawny Rags (in Crusader Rabbit) Tammany Tiger (in Mr Jack) Tiger Tim (in Homeless Hector) Tigger (in Winnie the Pooh) Tony the Tiger Ton, Jr. (in Tony the Tiger) Tycoon (in Wuzzles). He was part raccoon Tyg Ty-Grrr (in Spirit) Go to some details on the above characters .

Tiger Conflict with Humans

Tiger conflict with humans is really about man-eating tigers in the old fashioned sense. Or at least that is probably what people are interested in hearing about. The truth, though, is far more mundane. Tigers are not really interested in us. They want to be left alone and to leave us alone. Although tigers have plenty of opportunities to kill us and clearly have the ability to do so, they do not. Using radiotelemetry (tigers wearing radio transmitters) we can tell that even when tigers are close to footpaths used by people they ignore the people. By close I mean a few meters (ten feet). Corbett was a tiger hunter turned conservationists. A tiger reserve in the north of India is named after him. He knew tigers and he sums it up very nicely. Tigers he says are "very good tempered", except when wounded or man-eaters. Tigers object to people getting too close to its cubs or perhaps prey it has killed and is guarding. However, the tiger does not just attack to defend, it