Tigers are territorial animal occupying relatively larger habitat, the size depending on the density of the prey. Tigers live in a wide range of habitat ranging from snowy mountain at an altitude of 3,40 metre to humid green forest, dry open jungle and grassy swamp of Terai. Tigers need three essential things to survive: the large number of prey animals, ample shade to sleep in and sufficient water to quench their thirst. The big cat feed predominantly on large deer species and wild boar. They sometimes kill elephant calves, wild cattle, and even monkies and reptiles. In the absence of game animals, tigers may kill domestic cattle. Tiger density depends on the quality of the habitat and the prey it supports home to more than 235 tigers, which comes around 6 percent of the total population of the wild tigers in the world.
Tiger conservation starts:
Chitawan National Park with an area of 2,543 square km is the oldest tiger reserve of Nepal. Besides Chitawan there are four other protected areas in Nepal that are home to the tiger. Chitawan with 93 adult tigers, is the largest tiger reserve of Nepal followed by Bardiya with 87 tigers, Banke with 21, Parsa with 18 and Shuklaphanta with 16. Chitawan jungle was was popular for big game during the Rana regime. Special arrangements were made for Rana Prime Ministers who used to visit Chitawan for Shikar until 1950.
Along with the established with Chitawan National Park in 1973, the Tiger Ecology Project was introduced in the protected area to conduct scientific research on the tiger. The joint project involving the Government of Nepal, the Smithsonian Institution and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) conducted studies on various aspects of ecology and behaviour of the tiger for the first time.
The tiger (Panthera Tigris), the largest of all cats, is one of the spectacular mammals, found in the forests of Asia. The jungle cat normally having black stripes on yellow fur is spread in 13 tiger range countries of Asia, namely, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, North Korea, Thailand, Russia and Vietnam. Altogether eight sub-species of the tiger have been recorded in the tiger range countries. Of the eight species, namely, the Caspian, Bali, Javan, Bengal, Amur, Sumatran, Indo-Chinese and South-China tiger, three (Bali, Caspian and Javan) have already been extinct in the past 50 years, according to experts. Royal Bengal Tiger or the Pate Bagh, as is popularly known in Nepal, inhabits in small, isolated areas in India, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar.
Tigers are normally solitary, except for females who usually accompany 2-3 cubs. Males can be 3 metres long and weight around 200 kg while female weighs around 136 kg. Tigers are territorial and occupy relatively large habitats (65 to 3200 sq km) depending on the prey density. Life span of tigers in the wild is recorded up to 17 years.
Females become sexually active at the age of 3 and continues breeding until the age of 9 or 10. Males become sexually active at the age of 5 or 6. Mating takes place all year round. After a gestation period of around 103 days a tigress gives birth to on an average 2-3 cubs.
Tigers love solitude but it does not mean they are unsociable. Two animals may meet, and greet in typical cat fashion by rubbing cheeks, and then part. Occasionally several animals share a prey. While the tigress tolerates each other and are friendly with males, there is evidence that males are generally hostile towards others of the same sex. To publicise their presence tigers roar, leave signs in the form o scent that thy spray on bushes and trees. Tigers, under normal condition, are no danger to human. Occasionally they may prey on man, sometime because a wound prevents them from killing more agile prey at other occasion because of old age or sickness. Tigers demarcate their territory in four ways: spraying scent, making scrapes, clawing trees and body rolling. (Courtesy: Nepal Tiger 1998)