Caveat: Let me start this post by saying that none of the photos are mine – the one above and others are from the internet and a group I will show you later is from Wes, a fellow traveler to India. To take photos of this magnificent, stunningly beautiful animal is both a major goal and frustration for me, for as of this writing I have been unable to see tigers in the wild.
As my readers will recall, I initially decided to travel to India in the hope, that on an included tiger safari in Panna Tiger Reserve I would finally reach my goal. Sadly, the closest I got was this footprint.
The India trip nevertheless became one of most impactful and profound journeys I have ever taken (a subject for another post) and I remain mesmerized and fascinated by the elusive tiger. There are six extant subspecies of tiger found in India, Southern Asia, Russia and Indonesia, and sadly their numbers over the last century have fallen almost 95 percent due to hunting and loss of habitat. Recently there has been some hopeful news about increasing populations – more on that later, but let’s look at some tiger facts.
- The tiger is the biggest species of the cat family. Siberian tigers are the largest – with males reaching a length of up to 11 feet and weighing up to 660 pounds
- Habitats are generally densely covered in vegetation with access to water and prey
- No two tigers have the same markings, and their stripes are as individual as fingerprints
- Tigers, unlike most cats, love the water and are strong swimmers
- They are solitary, with males and females only interacting to mate (and sometimes fight over territory and prey)
- Tiger litters can have between 2 to 6 cubs. Cubs stay with their mom for 2-3 years while she teaches them the ropes
- Tigers require a large territory – tigresses need about 8 square miles but male tigers require almost 40 square miles. This distance adds to the difficulty of increasing the population
- The tiger population was down to 3200 animals by 1947, but recent successful conservation efforts, primarily in India, Nepal and Bhutan, have helped to increase the population to almost 4000
While I personally have not yet photographed a tiger in the wild, I was able to vicariously enjoy my fellow traveler Wes’ success in doing so. After our initial journey through India was completed, Wes and his wife continued on to Ranthambore Tiger Preserve in the Sawai Madhopur district of Rajasthan in Northern India. Being great people, their karma was justly rewarded by these really up close and personal encounters:
I was captivated by this video:
If you are still not convinced that tigers are the most beautiful, powerful, exotic creatures, let me offer up these few pics a from the internet to seal the deal:
I rest my case.