How is the Bengal tiger an animal superstar?

Did you know that animal activists have categorized the Bengal tiger as an animal superstar? The tiger is listed under a special category called the ‘charismatic megafauna’ which uses the animal’s popular appeal as an instrument for environmental change.

Few animals exude power and grace like the tiger. Vividly coloured in yellow to burnished-orange with vertical black stripes and white underparts, the tiger is a solitary predator. It is the largest of the big cats and can reach a length of 10 feet and weigh as much as 260 kg. It is nocturnal and preys on buffalo, deer, wild boar and other large mammals. Tigers possess the longest canines and the strongest teeth of any big cat and usually kill with a powerful bite on the neck. They have retractable claws and can even climb trees in pursuit of their prey.

The Royal Bengal tiger is native to the Indian subcontinent with about 70 percent of the world’s population found in India. Historically this apex predator was hunted for sport and for trophies like its teeth and skin. Tiger parts are also used in traditional Chinese medicine. Rampant killing of this magnificent animal as well as habitat loss from human encroachment led to its rapid decline.

From as many as 100,000 tigers in the 1900s, the numbers reduced to 20,000 in the next 25 years. By 1965 the tiger population in India was on the brink of extinction. This led to tiger protection laws being passed in 1971 and the launch of Project Tiger in 1973. Due to persistent conservation efforts, today India’s tigers number around 3000.

However, further increase of the tiger population needs a corresponding increase in forest area. A single tiger needs a territory of around 100 sq km to operate and unless existing forest reserves are extended, an increasing tiger population cannot be contained.

This iconic and ultimate predator is the national symbol of our country. The IUCN lists the Royal Bengal tiger as ‘Endangered’ on its Red List.

Picture Credit : Google 

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