The Bengal Tiger

The Royal Bengal (Panthera tigris tigris)

The Royal Bengal Tiger

This tiger is found in India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Myanmar, and Nepal. Since Bengals live in India, some people call them Indian tigers, the Bengal tiger is the most common tiger and number half of all wild tigers. It has been highly disputed of how many Bengal tigers there are, but they all agree that the Bengal tiger has drastically decreased since the early 2000's. And from 1997-2006, Bengal tigers are thought to have lost more than 50% of their habitat across Asia with the largest decrease in India. The Royal Bengal tiger lives in many habitats, from high-altitude, cold, coniferous Himalayan forests, the humid mangroves of the Sunderbans, the parched hills of the Indian peninsula, the lush wet forests of Northern India, to the arid forests of Rajasthan.

Many tigers live alone and mark large territories aggressively, to keep rivals away. They are strong nocturnal hunters and may travel many miles just to find buffalo, deer, wild pigs, or other large mammals. They also use their beautiful coats as camouflage in the wild, no two bengals have had the exactly same stripes. They lie and wait in, usually tall grass, and quickly but quietly creep up on prey. And with a quick jump and a pounce, they kill their prey and eat. A tiger can eat as much as 60 lbs in one night but even so they still eat less. Many people assume that tigers are man-eaters but in reality they avoid humans like the plauge. But in some situations a tiger will eat or kill a human, for a few good reasons like: if a tiger is really hungry and will die if it doesn't get anything to eat so it eats a nearby human, if a person is taunting a tiger that escaped from a zoo or got lost from the jungle and the tiger gets annoyed so he kills him and eats him, or if they live in an area where their prey vanished and they are sick and can't hunt normally. Female tigers usually give birth to litters of 2-6 cubs, and with no help from the male, they take care of the cubs. Cubs can't hunt untill they are about 18 months old and stay with their mothers for 2-3 years, and when they leave they find their own new territory.


The Bengal tiger's coat is yellow to light orange with stripes usually dark brown or black. The belly and some parts on the limbs are white, and the tail is orange with black rings. Male Bengal tigers have a total length of 270 to 310 cm including the tail, and femails measure 240 to 265 cm on average. The average weight of males is 221.2 kg while females are 139.7 kg. The pattern of genetic variation in the Bengal tiger corresponds to the theory that they arrived in India about 12,000 years ago. This is consistent with the lack of tiger fossils from the Indian subcontinent prior to the late Pleistocene and the absence of tigers from Sri Lanka, which was separated from the subcontinent by rising sea levels in the early Holocene.


The Bengal tiger is threatened by poacher, hunters, and those who destroy it's habitat. There is fewer than 2,500 bengal tigers left in the wild. Tiger populations were destroyed by poaching and trade until the internationional ban on tiger trade in 1993. But despite the ban, the illegal demand for tigers as decorative items, folk cures, and status symbols has increased dramatically in the past few decades. The largest immediate threat to what's left of the tiger population is the poaching driven by the international illegal wildlife trade. Another threat is the severe loss of natural prey for the tigers like deer and antelopes. Prey have declined because of poaching for meat and trade, competition with livestock over food, and their habitats being destroyed because of excessive wood removal for fires. Another threat is the conflict between humans and tigers. As they lose their prey and habitats, they keep coming into conflict with humans when they attack pets and even people. Long ago, tigers were often killed by angry villagers in retaliation.

Why They Matter

The Bengal tiger is at the top of the food chain in the wild and it is a vital link in the maintaining the rich diversity of nature. When they are protected from hunters and poachers, we save so many more. "For example, with just one tiger, we protect around 25,000 acres of forest." (WWF site: for link look below) These ecosystems can supply nature and people with fresh water, food, and health. All of the sub-species of tigers are endangered of being extinct including this one.

What Are We Doing About It?

One of many groups who are trying to save the Bengal tiger is the WWF, which once stood for the "World Wildlife Fund" but then changed it to the "World Wide Fund For Nature". The WWF is committed to doubling the number of wild tigers by stopping the poaching of tigers in the 12 most important tiger landscapes. They also protect many tiger habitats at an unprecedented scale, and clamp down hard on illegal tiger trade. They do this by getting the cooperation and support from the counturies the tigers live in. The WWF works with many partners to strengthen antipoaching efforts and reduce threats to it's natural habitat in India, Nepal, and Bhutan. They also have the support from local networks that help the WWF gather info on wildlife crimes, community-based antipoaching operations and making local law enforcement stronger. Now there is over 400 community-led antipoaching operations in Nepal's Terai Arc.