Wild tiger cubs are adorable, but I think of their vulnerability

When you see super vulnerable tiger cubs following mother in the wild, it is max. cuteness. They are so tiny. You feel that they might not survive even with the careful attention of their mother as she has to disappear for periods of time find a meal. And she can't be sure how long it will take. She'll hide her cubs, but other predators may take advantage.

So, what do the books say about predation rates in tiger cubs in the wild? The mother stays with her young cubs during the first few weeks of their lives. Her movements are therefore restricted. Tigresses are cautious and secretive when they have young cubs. They move them around frequently if the den is disturbed or threatened.

Cubs begin to follow their mother when they are about two months old. They don't join her in the hunt but wait quietly until she calls them.

The mother takes a lot of care to avoid placing her cubs in danger. By six months of age the cubs are weaned but they can't kill for themselves. I would expect that the video shows mum taking her cubs to a new hiding place.

Female tigers who normally allow tourists to photograph them without any concern, often disappear completely during the first few months of their cubs' lives. Tiger cubs are vulnerable to wolves, dholes, bears (Siberian tiger) and leopards.

I don't have details on predation rates on tiger cubs. That's probably a good thing as it might indicate that it rarely happens thanks to mother's efforts.

However, juvenile mortality is described as "high" and around 50% of all tiger cubs do not survive more than two years of age.

For Westerners, perhaps the most important conservation aspect of tigers is how tiger cubs are exploited as props for roadside photo sessions in America. I expect these often to be the offspring of tigers bred in captivity. They are perhaps bred for the cub photo op market.

This is pure exploitation. In America, federal law allows tiger cubs who are between 8-12 weeks old to be used in public displays and handled by paying customers. Breeders churn out these cubs to make money from them. They are often torn from their mothers when they are days old to make sure that they acclimatise to being handled by people.


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