Tigers are the biggest felines on the planet. An Apex Predator, these solitary but social creatures have lost 93% of their historic population due to habitat fragmentation, hunting, and loss of habitat, and have been placed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species, also commonly known as the IUCN Red List or the Red Data Book. An Estimated 4,500 wild tigers stalk our forests currently. India houses the largest tiger population out of all the 13 nations that are tiger habitats. Currently, 2,967 tigers roam various tiger reserves across India. This majestic species has even been mentioned in mythologies and has been associated with Hindu Gods. Today, tigers stand to lose any ground they have left with them, and even with conservation efforts in full throttle, governments still have a long way to go when it comes to repopulating the tiger habitats.
International Tiger Day is celebrated every year on the 29th of July since 2010, to mark the importance of these predators in our ecosystem. It acts as a reminder of the work that these 13 governments have to put in to repopulate tigers to a healthy number, under the international initiative known as Tx2 (Tigers times two), an oath that was made back in 2010 to double the population of tigers by 2022, which happens to be a year of the Tiger.
Let’s take a look at some lesser-known facts about tigers as a way of commemorating them.
Currently, there are six sub-species of Tigers, the Siberian tiger, the Bengal tiger, the South China tiger, the Sumatran tiger, the Indochinese tiger, and the Malayan tiger. Three other subspecies are listed as extinct: the Bali, Caspian, and Javan tigers.
1. Extra Large!
The Siberian Tiger, also known as the amur tiger, is the biggest of all tiger species, with the males weighing as heavy as 660 pounds, measuring up to 11 feet long from nose to tip of the tail. As against the Siberian Tiger, the Sumatran Tiger is the smallest, weighing in at approximately 300 pounds and lengths reaching 8 feet.
2. Nocturnal by Nature
Although it is not true that all tigers hunt at night, they do prefer to do so for the majority of their hunting activity. This is because tigers prefer to avoid fighting with people during the day and patrol their territory at night.
3. Wet Cat, Happy Cat
Unlike domestic cats, the larger counterpart of the cat family enjoys being in the water and can swim for extended periods. Since they are raising cubs, mother tigers support or teach their young ones how to hunt, and they can even kill in the water. Moreover, it is stated that they can swim for several kilometres as adults; one has even been seen swimming for 30 kilometres in a single day!
4. The Ambush/Streak
The Tigers are referred to as ambushes or streaks when they are placed in artificial settings, where they must share or remain in place beneath specific locations in a man-made environment. Even a Tigress with her pups is referred to as an ambush.
5. Doctor, Doctor!
The fact that tigers have antiseptic saliva may be a plus. Tigers typically lick the affected area to stop any infection from spreading.
6. Original Down to Skin
A majority of cat species have stripes on both – their skin and their fur. Tigers’ distinctive striped pattern indeed serves as their identity, much like a person’s fingerprint. Did you know that you could still see the stripes on domestic cats or tigers even if you shaved off their fu? Well, we strongly recommend not venturing into the forest with a trimmer.
7. Do I Smell Popcorn?
Don’t be misled by the intriguing fact that Tigers’ pee smells like buttered popcorn because it also serves as a warning sign to intruders in their territory.
There is so much to these beautiful creatures that intrigue us, be it their beauty, or genius hunting skills. On International Tiger Day, we are once again reminded of the damage we have caused to not just ourselves but all our neighbour species. We have even managed to threaten the king of the Jungle’s throne… and it is not a big surprise that the king is unhappy.