Tiger (Panthera Tigris)
“Tiger is a large hearted gentleman with boundless courage….”is how Jim Corbett explains the largest of all cat species
In its early days its reign included most of central Asia all the way up to the Korean peninsula, however, the fast decline of the forest cover and the depleting prey base is fast rendering it to a grim situation of almost going extinct and in some places (Java and Bali) as extinct.
As of today the remaining 6 subspecies of the tiger have been categorised by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as Endangered.
The global population of the tiger is now considered to number less than 4000 of which 2000 or less are considered to be remaining in the jungles on the India subcontinent .In order to control the fast disappearing numbers of the tiger in India during the early 1970’s, Mrs Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister initiated Project Tiger which today has led to the slow but steady growth in Tiger numbers…
Classified in 6 sub species are the Royal Bengal Tiger, Indochinese Tiger, Siberian Tiger, Malayan Tiger, South China Tiger and the Sumatran Tiger
The tiger is a solitary predator with the male keeping a territory of 60 km2 to an area of 100 km2 the areas are in direct relation with the prey base and at times with the large parts of prospective mating partners . The female on the other hand is more content with about 20 km2 enough to raise her cubs and maintain a healthy prey base.
Tigers mostly mark their territory by spray urinating on trees, as well as scent marking trails or leaving claw marks on trees. This scent marking also helps other tigers to establish the age, sex and reproductive nature of its own. Females too scent mark when in oestrus and become more vocal during the mating periods.
“Although for the most of the part tigers avoid each other, tigers are known not always to be territorial and relationships between them can be complex….” as observed by George Schaller
Having said this Male tigers generally are bigoted to other male tigers, than the female is of other female tigresses.
When a tiger roars in aggression its roar can be heard almost 2 miles, but then, the tiger usually does not like to give itself away, by announcing its arrival. It however on most occasions would moan, huff, purr and hiss (Yes Hiss) to communicate with its jungle folk….
How to track them…..
Data Collection is required to keep a track of the efforts and resources needed to protect the species. To collect data there are various techniques employed such as radio collars, capture and recapture of the tigers, image captures with camera traps and other modern methods of Pug mark identification.
However the latter is not used much as it is an expensive affair and the training to place these at certain areas to be able to catch the perfect sample requires a lot of man hours….
Capture-recapture model is however now becoming synonymous with tiger tracking. It is also a good way to understand demographic of the tiger. This involves both the methods of camera trapping as well as the traditional methods in understanding the science of tracking tigers.
Pug mark tracking is an old art mastered by trackers and poachers alike.
The size and shape of the pug mark of a tiger decides whether it’s a male or female. At times distinguishing between tigers as the resident or is it a visitor.
Tigers and their relation with man goes back centuries and millennia some deities in the Hindu religion are seen riding tigers, whilst in others Buddhist teaching they are shown to be traits of a human character Anger in this case…..
Most Royalty thought of it and revered its grace and made it their royal symbol. It still continues to be the national animal of India and Bangladesh. The Korean’s have the Siberian Tiger as their national animal too…
Tigers are also known to be mighty popular in Eastern Russia where they control the growth of the wild deer and other wild animals. They specially help in keeping a check on the wolf’s population there.