Tigers are extremely adaptable mammals and are able to survive and thrive in a wide range of habitats. The big cats can live around mangrove swamps, tropical rainforests, grasslands, savannahs and even rocky mountains. The six main sub species each survive in completely different conditions around the world, in terms of geography, ecology and climate. |
Asia (and, in particular, India) is home to the biggest numbers of Panthera tigris, with the Bengal Tiger (Panthera Tigris Tigris) also found in locations around Bangladesh and Nepal. The Indochinese (Panthera Tigris Corbetti) roams the densely forested areas of Vietnam, Cambodia, Burma and southwest China, while the Siberian (Panthera Tigris Altaica) makes its home in Russia. The majority of Tiger safari itineraries take in the national parks and reserves of the Indian subcontinent, which is home to the densest population of the animal.
Unfortunately, despite the wide distribution of this beautiful big cat, its numbers have drastically decreased over the last few decades.
Three Survival Necessities
As with all mammals, Panthera tigris really only requires three things to survive: shelter, food and water. But while it reigns supreme at the top of the food chain, this magnificent apex predator has one challenge it cannot conquer: the human. It is not only protection from hunters that is needed, but also protection from the ever-encroaching development and expansion of industry and infrastructure. (Safe shelter for cubs is particularly important for the breeding females.)
Most animals spend a good part of their day focused on food and the Tiger is no exception. This stealthy hunter needs a large amount of food and if the smaller prey sources diminish, so too does its population. Poachers not only threaten the big cat but also these smaller mammals. Of course, water is vital, especially in habitats that are subjected to high temperatures. The big cats are excellent swimmers, which means they are also adept at hunting in the water. An Endangered Species
The prime reason for this mammal’s endangered status is the loss of habitat. They are solitary animals and roam extensively to establish their range across a wide territory. Because farming and industry are expanding, forests, grasslands and swamps are diminishing; less space and natural habitat means fewer prey species. There’s been an alarming 93% decrease in the big cat’s population in India since the year 2000, but slowly, with education and increasing awareness in the need to urgently address the situation, conservation efforts are making headway in several important areas.
What Can Be Done
With numerous parks and nature reserves set up to protect the big cat’s precious habitat, nature lovers now have the chance to join a Tiger safari to see these magnificent creatures in the wild – where they should be seen. Not only is this a truly unforgettable experience, but the increased input of money through this kind of responsible and sustainable ecotourism helps to fund valuable projects and conservation efforts.
Marissa Ellis-Snow is a freelance nature writer with a special interest in Tiger watching. As a passionate lover of wildlife, Marissa chooses the expert-led Tiger safari itineraries organised by Naturetrek, which have brought her unforgettable sightings of a wide range of species in some of the most spectacular regions on Earth.
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