Big cat sanctuary to hold behind the scenes tour Sunday
BHOPAL: Two tigers and two tigresses have not been sighted by wardens and Tiger Reserve for several weeks and even months, triggering fears that these endangered cats had fallen victim to voracious poachers or chased out of their territory by more aggressive tigers, officials and tour operators said on Monday. The reserve is home to 55 tigers.
The male Siberian or Amur Tiger, with a total body length in excess of 10 ft and weighing up to 300 kg is the largest and most powerful member of the cat family! The tiger's fur ranges from orange to brownish yellow with a white chest and belly is covered with broken vertical black/dark brown stripes. The length of the fur is longer in the Amur tiger, which inhabits the colder forested regions of eastern Russia and northern China. Males of all sub-species also exhibit longer fur in the form of a 'ruff' around the back of the head, especially pronounced in the Sumatran.
In general the tiger is a forest dweller but can also be found in grass land and swamp margins beyond woodland areas - they are never far from a source of water, are strong swimmers and have a particular love of bathing in pools and lakes in hotter regions. These wild cats are nocturnal hunters although in protected areas away from human intervention the animal is often active during the day. They prefers larger prey, such as wild boar, buffalo and deer, but also hunts fish, monkeys and various small mammals. They are often regarded as cautious hunters, stalking as close as it can to the rear its prey before making the final charge. As in common with many cats, they will save their food supply, hiding it under loose vegetation, returning to feed over several days. Although, with the exception of mother and cubs learning to hunt, it is generally a solitary hunter and they will often share its food with others of its family group.
This wild cat, more than any of the big cats, have earned a reputation of a 'man-eater'. In the Sundarbans Reserve in the swamp lands along the coast of the Bay of Bengal it has been reported that they have attacked fishermen in their boats - however such unprovoked attacks are very rare. Confrontation mainly occurs when humans stray into reserved areas to collect firewood or food and, more often than not, it is by old or injured tigers unable to compete for normal prey.
White Bengal Tigers
Although popular in some zoos, 'White Bengals' are extremely rare in the wild - the last sighting of a White Bengal in its natural habitat was near Rewa in Central India back in 1951. This male was captured by the Maharaja of Rewa and named Mohan - it is this animal that most in captivity today are related. It is not a true albino - it is simply has less dark colored pigment in its coat. The coat is not pure white but has brown stripes and blue eyes.
This beautiful cat was once found throughout most of southern, eastern and central Asia, and the Middle East. Today at least three of the subspecies -Caspian in the Middle East and west central Asia - Balinese and Javan from the islands of Bali and Java are now extinct. Of the remaining five subspecies the most numerous is the Bengal with a population of between 3,500 and 4,000. The Indian government has played a big part in the conservation of the Bengal in the early 1970's they established a project and opened a number of reserves in which to protect the animal. However poaching of the animal for its furs and other body parts is still a major threat.
The Chinese species, outlawed by the communist government of the 1960's as a threat to the peoples food source and the Siberian, suffering from the destruction and loss of its natural habitat, are nearly extinct. Without intervention it is probable that these two subspecies will disappear forever from their natural habitat!
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