List of Bengal Tiger
Panthera tigris : The Bengal tiger grows to be only about 10 feet long (including the tail) and weighs in at around 400 to 600 pounds. The Bengal tiger has a richer color and darker stripes than the Siberian tiger. Bengal tigers occasionally have a coat that is white instead of orange. These white Bengal tigers have icy blue eyes and black, or brown stripes. They are not albino tigers; if they were, they would not have colored stripes or blue eyes, they would have pink eyes. Bengal tigers can be found in central and southern India, southern Nepal, Bhutan, western Myanmar and Bangladesh.
The wild Bengal tiger is the largest in India. The World Conservation Union Cat Specialist Group estimates between 3,250 - 4,700 Bengal tigers. There are 66 different protected areas for the Bengal tiger in India. There are 3 protected areas for Bengal tigers in Nepal housing150-250 tigers, 4 protected areas in Bhutan housing 50-250 tigers, 3 protected areas in Bangladesh housing 300-450 tigers. The number of wild Bengal tigers in Myanmar is unknown.
Bengal tigers have been captive in zoos since 1880. The first zoo in India to house tigers was the Alipore Zoo in Calcutta. They have been bred so successfully in captivity that there are too many captive Bengals today. Many are sent to sanctuaries to live out their lives. The International Tiger Studbook says the total captive population of pure- bred (there has been a lot of crossing of pure Bengals with tigers of unknown descent) Bengal tigers is 333. Of those 333, 289 have the orange color typical of tigers and the remaining 44 are white. All of the pure strain captive Bengal tigers are housed in zoos in India except for 1 pure strain female Bengal tiger that is housed in the United States.
- The estimated wild population of Bengal tigers is approximately 3,159–4,715 tigers, with about 333 in captivity, primarily in zoos in India.
- Most Bengal tigers live in India, although some range through Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Myanmar.
- White tigers are simply a color variant of Bengal tigers and are rarely found in the wild.
- The Bengal tiger lives in a wide range of habitats, including the high-altitude, cold, coniferous Himalayan forests, the steaming mangroves of the Sunderbans, the swampy reedlands, the scorched hills of the Indian peninsula, the lush wet forests of Northern India, and the arid forests of Rajasthan.
- Male Bengal tigers average 2.9 meters (9 1/2 feet) from head to tail and weigh about 220 kilograms (480 pounds). Females are smaller, measuring about 2.5 meters (8 feet) in length and weighing approximately 140 kilograms (300 pounds).
- Bengal tigers prey primarily on wild deer and wild cattle.
- Their range size is estimated at 10-39 km2 (3.9–15 mile2) for females and 30-105 km2 (11.7–40.5 mile2) for males (Sunquist 1981).
Color Variations in Tigers : The following information is abstracted from a recent paper* by B.C. Prusty and L.A. Singh, on the varied colorations of the tiger.
Most tigers are tawny brown in color with dark stripes and whitish stomachs. Reports and records indicate however, that a few wild tigers have been seen in unusual colors, including all white and all black .
White Tigers : A mutation of the Bengal subspecies, white tigers have dark brown or reddish brown stripes on a white ground-color. A popular attraction in many of today's zoos, white tigers in the wild were recorded in India during the Mughal Period from 1556 to 1605 AD (Divyabhanusinh, 1986). At least 17 instances were recorded in India between 1907 and 1933 (Gee, 1954) in Orissa, Bilaspur, Sohagpur and Rewa (Pocock, 1939).
Photo: Tom Brakefield All wild white tigers were a color variation of Bengal tigers. Wild white tigers were very rare, and none have been reported in the wild since the 1950s.
White tigers in zoos are inbred and crossbred mixtures of Bengal and Siberian. They are neither albinos (in which case they would have pink eyes), nor a separate species; they have chocolate stripes and blue eyes, although several variations in eye and stripe color are seen. White tigers are only born to parents that both carry the recessive gene for white coloring.
The first white cub precursor to all the captive white tigers is believed to be one trapped by the Maharaja of Rewa, who found it orphaned in the jungle in 1951. Named Mohan, the cub was later mated to a normal-colored captive tigress who produced three litters with normal coloring. A few years later, Mohan mated with one of the offspring, producing the first litter of white cubs in captivity—these were to be the ancestors of others now in many zoos the world over.
As of June 1998, there were 30 white tigers in U.S. zoos that participate in SSP (species survival plan) programs. No one knows how many more are in private hands.