The Bengal Tiger can be found in the deciduous forests (both wet and dry) of India; the hot, humid forests of Bhutan and the sal forests and grasslands of the Himalayas. As with other subspecies of tigers, Bengals prefer areas in which they are better concealed and camouflaged, always ready to take prospective prey by surprise.
The Bengal Tiger is a carnivore and will dine on whatever meat is available in the area in which they live. Common prey includes various buck species, wild boars, porcupines, hares and birds. If and when necessary, the Bengal will also attack and kill other hunters; such as bears, crocodiles and even fellow tigers. The Bengal Tiger stalks its prey, pounces on it and kills it swiftly, when caught successfully. It will then drag its catch into a secluded spot to enjoy it alone and in relative safety. Because it may only make such a kill once every few days, the tiger will eat as much as possible at one â€˜sittingâ€™. Tigers always start eating their prey at the rump.
Family Structure and Reproduction
After mating has occurred (usually in spring and winter), a gestation period of about 105 days (or approximately 3.5 months) occurs. A typical litter comprises of up to four cubs, all protected with a dense, woolly coat. Their eyes and ears begin to open after a few days, and their milk teeth peek out from their otherwise gummy mouths at about two weeks of age. When the permanent teeth replace the baby ones (at around five months old), the Bengal cubs are taught how to hunt for their food. It is at this same time that their coat begins to take on a more adult appearance. However, it is only at about two years of age that the cubs will begin to separate from their mother and venture out into a solitary existence. The female cubs may stay within a relatively close proximity to their mothers for some time (although not necessarily interacting with her), while the males tend to break completely free immediately. Tigers do not live or hunt in packs. The Bengal Tiger reaches sexual maturity at around four years old.
The Bengal Tiger is currently an endangered species. Hunted for its pelt, body and organs, it continues to face the ever-present threat of extinction. The skin and various parts of its body are believed to have religious and health benefits to the humans that use and / or consume them. Although trade has been banned, this has not diminished the enormous demand for such products. Poaching has become a lucrative profession in many areas. Most of the products are sold in China.
Tigers are also killed by farmers trying to protect their livestock and as a result of diminished natural habitat, due to the growing areas occupied by humans.
There are a number of official organisations in place, particularly in India, to protect the remaining Bengal Tiger population and apprehend poachers.