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A large cat
The tiger (panthera tigris), largest of all
cats, is one of the biggest and most fearsome predators in the
world. A typical male Siberian tiger may weigh 500 pounds and
measure more than three yards from nose to tip of the tail. They
can travel large distances and jump to 30 feet in one
Powerfully built with fierce retractile
claws the tiger's
distinctive gold coloring with black stripes allows it to melt
unseen into its environment.
Tigers are at the top of the food chain: they eat just about anything,
but nothing eats the tiger. Hunting primarily by sight and
sound, they have been known to eat crocodiles, fish, birds,
reptiles, and even other predators like leopards and bears.
However, the preferred food, without which tiger populations
cannot remain healthy, are deer and wild pigs.
Prey are killed by a bite to the neck or by a strangulating throat hold.
If the tiger's prey is too big to eat at once, it will be
covered with dirt, leaves and grasses until the next meal. The
biggest ungulates, such as
gaur (a kind of wild cattle) and
water buffalo, provide so much food that the tiger won't hunt
again for a week. More than 80 pounds of meat may be eaten at
one sitting. Hunting can be very difficult, however, and tigers
are only successful in one or two attacks out of every twenty.
Tigers are usually solitary and come together only
to mate. Mating can occur at any time, but usually happens
between November and April. Gestation lasts about three and a half
months. Two or three
cubs are normally born, and sometimes more,
den made from thick vegetation, a cave, or
crevice. They nurse for three to six months, although they may
begin eating meat as early as two month old and can hunt by about
one year of age. Cubs will stay with their mother for about two
years. Life is dangerous for a tiger cub; only about one-half
survive to their third year. The relatively short period between
litters (about two to two and a half years), combined with the
relatively large litter sizes, allows tiger populations to rebound
surprisingly quickly for such large carnivores, given their basic
food and habitat requirements.
Male tigers have a large territory, the size of which varies depending on
how much vegetation, water, and prey are available. In Russia,
territories may be as large as 385 square miles, while a male
tiger in the Indian subcontinent may occupy 40 square miles or
less. Females have smaller, mutually exclusive ranges contained
within a male's range. All tigers mark their territories with
urine, feces, and scratching on tree trunks.
Tigers are believed to have evolved over 1 million
years ago in what is now South China. From there the tiger
eventually spread north to the Amur region of far eastern
Russia, south to the islands of Indonesia, and southwest to
Indochina and the Indian subcontinent, eastern Turkey, and the
Caspian Sea. Wherever tigers lived, they commanded deep respect
awe from their human neighbors.
This century has already seen major losses of wild tigers. By the 1950s,
tigers living around the Caspian Sea were extinct. Populations
of tigers that once inhabited the islands of Bali and Java are
now extinct. The last Bali tiger was killed in 1937; the last
Javan tiger sighting occurred in 1972. India today has the
largest number of tigers, with between 3,030 and 4,735. The
South China tiger, with at best 20 to 30 individuals, is nearly
extinct in the wild.
It is estimated that only 5,100 to 7,500 individual tigers now remain in
the entire world. These remaining tigers
are threatened by many
factors, including growing human populations, loss of habitat,
illegal hunting of the tiger and the species they hunt, and
expanded trade in tiger parts for traditional medicines.
World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and many other organizations are now working to combat these threats
and save the tiger. 1998 was the Chinese "Year of the
Tiger," and WWF used this opportunity to bring East and
West together in the cause of tiger conservation. Together, we
can ensure that we leave our children a planet where tigers
World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Website
leap: abrupt jump movement (salto)
claws: animal feet (garras)
(uncountable noun): animals caught for food (las presas)
gaur: wild ox (buey salvaje)
to mate: to copulate
cubs: the tiger's children (cachorros)
den: hideout (escondite,
a rocky crevice:
narrow opening in
(una grieta en
litters: the offspring at one birth of a multiparous mammal
are threatened: are in danger (peligran)
roam wild: wander about
MAS "ECOLOGIA - VIDA SILVESTRE"