Friday, 1 July 2011
Bengal Tigers form the largest subspecies of tigers in the world. Most commonly found in India and Bangladesh, they are the ‘national animal’ of both these countries. Living in grasslands and in rainforests, they can weight up to 220kg. The Bengal Tiger population is very fragile today: they have nearly been driven to extinction and numerous projects are now in place to preserve the population.
The diet of Bengal Tigers consists mainly of medium to large-sized animals. Able to consume around 30kg in one sitting, their favorite preys include wild boars, buffalos, deer and wild pigs. They usually hunt at night, where a tiger can blend in effectively with the surroundings before surprising their victims. They can also hunt during the day if necessary, and the striped pattern on the tiger’s fur helps it to camouflage. Although they do not typically hunt humans, they may do so in cases of extreme hunger.
Today, the populations of Bengal Tigers stand at around 4,500. In the 1970s, the numbers were much smaller, but projects have helped the population to re-grow. Today, deforestation and urbanization have a major impact on the Bengal Tiger population. Tigers are forced to move out from their natural habitats and as a result can no longer easily find their daily food.
Bengal Tigers are sometimes hunted for their fur or their body parts, which can be used in traditional Chinese medicine. Although there are strict rules against hunting tigers, many animal preservation agencies say that tigers are still being hunted throughout India and Bangladesh, even inside national parks themselves.
Several projects have been set-up by government agencies to help conserve the Bengal Tiger population, the largest one being ‘Project Tiger’. While they no doubt have played a major part in the fairly successful conservation project, they are also subject to criticism by several activists, who claim that the projects have not been efficiently organized and that tiger numbers may have been inflated by the agencies in order to protect jobs. One particularly controversial incident was the complete loss of the Bengal Tiger population in the ‘Sariska Tiger Reserve’ as a result of hunting.
The Bengal Tigers play a major role in the heritage of India and Bangladesh. Sadly, these beautiful animals have been driven to near extinction as a consequence of urbanization and hunting. It is important that the public is made aware of the efforts that are taking place in order to save these amazing and important animals. It is only then that they have a chance to survive