Royal Bengal Tiger
Habitat and Distribution
Tigers are widely distributed from the alpine Himalayas to the rain forests of southern Western Ghats and from the dry forests of Rajasthan to the moist forests of north-east India.
The tiger is one of the largest and most awesome predators in the world. This species undoubtedly fascinates every eye it meets. The body length of the majestic male ranges from 275-290 cm and of the female around 260 cm. The size and colour vary according to the geographic location and climate. Tiger is solitary and territorial and the territory of an adult male may encompass territories of two to seven females. It is carnivorous and hunts for prey primarily by sight and sound. It feeds on deer, wild pig, bovid and sometimes even other predators like leopards and bears.
Habitat and prey loss
Large-scale habitat destruction and decimation of prey populations are the major long-term threats to the existence of the dwindling tiger population in the country.
Less than a hundred years ago, tigers prowled all across India and the sub-continent. But growing human populations, particularly since the 1940s, have contracted and fragmented the tiger's former range. Although extensive habitat is available in some landscapes, agriculture, clearing of forests for development - especially road networks, hydel projects are forcing tigers into small and scattered islands of remaining habitat. Tigers need large territories. And along with habitat, tigers have also suffered a severe loss of natural prey populations – in particular ungulates such as deer and antelopes.
Hunting, poaching and illegal trade
For over thousand years, tigers have been hunted as status symbol, decorative item such as wall and floor covering, as souvenirs and curios, and for use in traditional Asian medicines. Hunting for sport probably caused the greatest decline in tiger populations until the 1930s. In the early 1990s, trade in tiger bone for traditional Chinese medicines threatened to drive tigers to extinction in the wild. Poaching is the largest immediate threat to the remaining tiger population.
Conflict with humans
As tigers continue to lose their habitat and prey species, they are increasingly coming into conflict with humans as they attack domestic animals – and sometimes people. In retaliation, tigers are often killed by angry villagers.
WWF has been working for over four decades to conserve tigers. In 2002, WWF developed a new and far-reaching strategy in partnership with other conservationists and authorities. The cornerstone of the tiger conservation programme is a landscape-based approach. Seven priority landscapes have been identified where conservation will benefit the long-term survival of tigers in the wild. Within these key landscapes, WWF and its partners work to reduce or remove threats to tigers in the wild by restoring their habitat, maintaining connectivity, and securing a wilderness landscape, strengthening anti-poaching efforts, working with villages in critical tiger corridors, mitigating human-wildlife conflict by creating physical barriers (solar fencing, CPTs), providing interim relief schemes to curb retaliatory killing, providing alternatives to reduce pressure on forest resources, exploring and supporting alternative livelihood options, facilitating institutional strengthening of local communities and creating awareness among villagers and local populace for their protection.
Head, Programme Management, Monitoring and Evaluation
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