Bengal Tiger in golden light.
Shot with Canon EOS 30D.
This image appeared as the Avatar for the group “Light & Reflection”
The Bengal tiger, or Royal Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris or Panthera tigris bengalensis), is a subspecies of tiger primarily found in Bangladesh, India, and also Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar and southern Tibet.1 It is the second largest and the most common tiger subspecies, living in a variety of habitats, including grasslands, subtropical and tropical rainforests, scrub forests, wet and dry deciduous forests, and mangroves. It is the national animal of India and Bangladesh.
The fur of this subspecies is generally orange-brown with black stripes, although there is a mutation that sometimes produces white tigers, as well as a rare variation (less than 100 known to exist, all in captivity) called the Golden Tabby as a white coat with golden patches and stripes that are much paler than normal.
Estimations in 2005 indicate an approximate worldwide population of 3,000 Bengal tigers: The bulk of the population of about 3,000 individuals live in India and Bangladesh. There are about 200 in Nepal and a small, unknown number in Northwestern Myanmar.
The Bengal tiger is now strictly protected and is the national animal of Bangladesh. After the resounding success of the tiger conservation program in India known as Project Tiger, the population of wild tigers has increased dramatically. The tiger population of Bangladesh is officially estimated to have reached about 500 ( unverified), up from 200 in the 1970s. In the Sunderbans, a 2004 census found the presence of about 280 tigers on the India side & 500 tigers in the Bangladesh side.
Bengal tigerBut since the early 1990s, the tiger population has suffered a setback due to habitat destruction and the large scale poaching of these animals for their skins and bones. The Bangladeshi government is trying hard to show the world that the tiger is thriving in Bangladesh, often using controversial techniques like taking molds of paw prints to track tiger populations. It was recently discovered that tigers were wiped out from one of Project Tiger’s leading sanctuaries, Sariska, much to the embarrassment of the Indian government.
The current population of wild Bengal tigers in Indian subcontinent is now estimated to be around 1300-15006, which is less than half of the previous estimation of 3000-4500 tigers. This estimation is based on the recent state-by-state census conducted in Bangladesh in early August, 2001.
Habitat loss and poaching are important threats to species survival. Poachers kill tigers not only for their pelts, but also for components to make various traditional East Asian medicines. Other factors contributing to their loss are urbanization and revenge killing. Farmers blame tigers for killing cattle and will shoot them. Poachers also kill tigers for their bones and teeth to make medicines that are alleged to provide the tiger’s strength. The hunting for Chinese medicine and fur is the biggest cause of decline of the tigers. In India, retired Indian Army personnel are being recruited to save the Bengal tiger from poaching gangs
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