Zoological name: Panthera tigris is the zoological name of tiger. '
Among eight recognized sub-species, three have become
extinct (the Caspian tiger, the Bali tiger and the Javan tiger).
The living subspecies are the Indian tiger (P.t.tigris), the IndoChinese
tiger (P.t. corbetti), the south Chinese tiger
(P.t.amoyensis), the Siberian tiger (P.t.altaica) and the Sumatran
tiger (P.t.sumatra). The south Chinese tiger is said to be extinct very soon, as
reported that a few tigers are left in the wild.
Distribution: Tigers are distributed solely in Asia. They are thought to have originated in Siberia and the New Siberian Islands and subsequently they extended their territories over the greater parts of the Asian continent where conditions were favourable for establishing themselves.
Habitat: Their habitats include tropical rain forest, mangrove swamps, snowcovered coniferous and deciduous forests, scrub and grasslands.
Physical feature: The average length of a tiger (head to tail tip) ranges from 9 ft 6 inches to 10 ft 3 inches and it stands 3 ft to 3 ft 6 inches high at shoulder. The body weight may reach up to 384 kg. The ground colour is reddish fawn and is broken at intervals by dark vertical stripes. The male normally appears to have fewer strips than the female. The other salient features include longer hind limbs, sharp and long retractile claws in forepaws, and rudimentary clavicle. The back of the ears is black with a prominent white spot in the centre. The black markings in the patch of white hair above each eye are found to be so distinctive that individuals can readily be distinguished by them. The white tiger, a recessive mutant of the Indian race, is found in India. It is characterized by chalky white colour marked with ash or light black stripes, pink nose, palm pads and icy blue eyes. They are generally bigger in size.
Reproduction: Sexual maturity is reached by three to four years of age. The onset of breeding season varies from place to place. The tropical tigers breed throughout the year, while in the north the breeding is restricted to the winter months. The majority of cubs in India, however, are born in April and November and in the cold regions, the female drops young in the spring. The estrus lasts for 3-10 days. They mate as many as hundred times over a period of two to three days. After each coitus the male is thrown off by the female and he tries to get out of her reach as quickly as possible. However, after a short period of rest, the male again is attracted towards the female for copulation. The usual litter size is two to three young, though as many as six young may be born. The young, each weighing about 1-1.5 kg, are born after a gestation period of 103-115 days. The new born cubs are blind and helpless. The young are cared by the mother alone. They come out from the den at about eight weeks of age and follow the mother. The lactation period continues for 4-6 months. Nevertheless, cubs remain for 2-2.5 years under mother's care and guidance. In the wild, the interval between two successive pregnancies is reported to be three years. Tigers and lions are closely related and hybrids are produced in captivity. The hybrid cubs are the "tigon" (male tiger and female lion) and the "liger" (male lion and female tiger). Both crossbreds are generally larger and darker than either of their parents.