Tigers are descended from civet-like animals called niacis that lived during theage of the dinosaurs about 60 million years ago (Dang, 1994).

These smallmammals, with long bodies and short flexible limbs, evolved over millions ofyears into several hundred different species, including cats, bears, dogs andweasels. About 37 cat species exist today (Dang, 1994). Tigers evolved ineastern Asia , but it is not exact.

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Sabre-tooth tigers are not the ancestors oftoday’s tigers. In fact, sabre-tooth tigers belonged to a separate branch of catevolution which became extinct many millions of years ago. The Siberian or Amurtiger lives primarily in eastern Russia, and a few are found in northeasternChina and northern North Korea.

It is estimated that 437-506 Siberian tigersstill exist in the wild (Tilson ,1995). About 490 captive Siberian tigers a remanaged in zoo conservation programs (Tilson, 1995). The South China tiger isthe most critically endnagered of all tiger subspecies. They are found incentral and eastern China. It is estimated that only 20-30 South China tigersare left in the wild (Dang ,1994). Currently 48 South China tigers live in 19zoos, all in China (Dang ,1994). The distribution of the Indochinese tiger iscentered in Thailand, and is found in Myanmar, southern China, CAnbodia, Laos,Vietnam, and penisular Malaysia.

About 1,180- 1,790 Indochines tigers are leftin the wild and about 60 live in zoos (Tilson, 1995). Bengal tigers live inIndia, and some range through Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Myanmar. Theestimated wild population is approzimately 3,060- 4,735 tigers, with about 333in captivity, primarily in zoos in India (Dang, 1994). White tigers are justwhite-colored Bengal tigers.

They ae not a separate subspecies of tiger, andthey are no albinos. They have blue eyes, a pink nose, and creamy white fur withchocolate colored striipes, White tigers are only born when two tigers that bothcarry the unusual gene for white coloring mate, Wild white tigers are very rare,and todayt they can only be seen in zoos. The Sumatrain tiger is found only onthe Indonesian island of Sumatra. About 400-500 wild Sumatran tigers arebelieved to exist, primarily inthe island’s five national parks (Dang, 1994).

Another 235 Simatran tigers live in zoos around the world (Dang, 1994). Threetiger subspecies have been considered to become extinct in the past 70 years (Tilson,1994). The Caspian tiger, known as the Panthera tigris virgata, once ranged inAfghanistan, Iran, Turkey, Mongolia, and Central Asiatic area of Russia andprobably went extinct in the 1950’s (Tilson, 1995). The Javan tiger, Pantheratigris sondaica, formerly ranged on the Indonesian island of Java and was lastseen in 1972 (Tilson, 1995). The Bali tiger, Panthera tigris balica, once livedon Bali, where the last tiger was believed to have been killed in 1937 (Tilson,1995).

Tigers have social behavior. Adult tigers are solitary animal thatestablish their territories in areas with enough prey, cover and water tosupport them. The hardship of loating prey in tiger habitat makes it moreefficient for tigers to hunt alone. As a result, they do not tend to form socialgroups like lions. A female tiger and her cubs are the exception to this, andwill form a family group for 2 to 3 years, until the cubs are able to fend forthemselves (Dang ,1994).

The territory of a tiger usually ranges in size fromabout 10 to 30 square miles, although the territory of a Siberian tiger may beas large as 120 square miles (Tilson, 1995). Both male and female tigers spraybushes and trees along their route with amixture of urine and scent glandsecretions. This is a way of declaring their territory. They also leave marks ontrees, and urinate or leave droppongs in prominent places. Female tigers reachmaturity when they area bout 3 years old and males reach it when they are a yearor so later (Dang, 1994). In temperate climates, a tigress comes into heat onlyseasonally , but in tropical climates, she may come int heat throughtout theyear.

She signals her readiness with scent marking and locating roars. The briefact of copulaiton occurs continually for a five day period. Tigers are inducedovulators, and must be stimualted through frequent copulation in order to becomepregnant.

To stimulate ovulation the male tiger’s penis has spines. Thisexplains in part why the female roars and lashes out at the male immediatelyfollowing copulation. After mating, the period for tigers is about 103 days (Tilson,1995). The average litter size of tigers is 2 or 3 cubs (Tilson, 1995). Oneusually dies at birth.

Tiger cubs are born blind and weigh only about 2 to 3pounds (Tilson, 1995). They live on their mother’s milk for 6-8 weeks before thefemale begins taking them to kill in order to feed (Tilson, 1995). They startmaking their kills within 18 months of age (Tilson, 1995). Young tigers leavetheir mother’s range at anywhere from a year and a half to three years of age,depending on whether the mother has another liter. Females tend to stay closerto the mother’s range than males. Over much of the tiger’s broad geographicrange, wild pig, wild cattle and several species of deer are its major prey.

Allprey are forest or grassland ungulates that range in size from 65 to 2,000pounds (Tilson, 1995). Tigers are ambush hunters, stalking their prey,appproaching as closely as possible. When they are close enough they charge theanimal. They bite the neck or throat of their prey. The neck bite, which affectsthe spinal cord, is typically used on small or medium sized prey. The throatbite that causes suffocation is used on larger animals.

After killing theirprey, tigers drag the animal to a safe place so that no one else eats it. Theyusually carry their prey in high trees. Typically, wild tigers go wild on freshkills, and can eat as much as 40 pounds of meat at one time (Dang, 1994).Several days may pass before they are hungry enough to hunt again. Althoughtiger attacks on humans are unusual, they do sometimes occur.

Because the Asianhuman population is increasing, farmers and loggers are beginning to use areaswhere tigers live. This causes increasing conflicts between tigers and human. Itis thought that most tigers who eat humans are sick or injured and unanble tokill their prey. Once they have acquired a taste for human beings, they willkeep eating humans.

While man- eating tigers are a rarity in most parts of Asia,they are common in the Sunderbans. No one lives in the magrove forests andswamps of the Sunderbans. The Sunderban tigers seem to have targeted humans asprey, and human being attacked are being reported every year. Several differenthave been used to combat man-eating tigers in the Sunderbans. One method useshuman dummies fitted with electric wires from car batteries. This methodadministers a shock when touched by a tiger.

Another method uses a simple maskof a human face which arw worn on back of your head. This effectively made bothsides of the wearer appear to be the front. This method is used because tigersusually attack from the behind. While this method seemed to work for severalyears, the Sunderban tigers have discovered the trick.

In no further discussion,tigers are very interesting to learn about. Tigers may be dangerous if youinvade their territory. Tigers can be found in open areas and zoos . If you wantto see tigers you should go to a zoo.

Tigers are becoming extinct because we areinvading their territories and we should protect them from going extinct becausethey are fascinating creatures.Zoology and Animals

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