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The Tigers of Central India

The Tigers of Central India

The tiger (Panthera tigris) is the largest cat species, most recognizable for its pattern of dark vertical stripes on reddish-orange fur with a lighter underside. The species is classified in the genus Panthera with the lionleopardjaguar, and snow leopard. It is an apex predator, primarily preying on ungulates such as deer . It is territorial and generally a solitary but social predator, often requiring large contiguous areas of habitat that support its prey requirements. This, coupled with the fact that it is indigenous to some of the more densely populated places on Earth, has caused significant conflicts with humans.

The tiger is among the most recognisable and popular of the world’s charismatic megafauna. It featured prominently in ancient mythology and folklore, and continues to be depicted in modern films and literature, appearing on many flagscoats of arms, and as mascots for sporting teams. The tiger is the national animal of  India.

In the wild, tigers mostly feed on large and medium-sized animals, preferring ungulates weighing at least 90 kg (200 lb). They typically have little or no deleterious effect on their prey populations. Powerful, burly animals, tigers can subdue prey upto 5 times their own weight. The largest of the living cats, an average Bengal tiger measures about 3 metres from tip of the nose to the end of the tail.

Tigers are thought to be mainly nocturnal predators, but in areas where humans are absent, remote-controlled, hidden camera traps recorded them hunting in daylight. They generally hunt alone and ambush their prey as most other cats do, overpowering them from any angle, using their body size and strength to knock the prey off balance. Successful hunts usually require the tiger to almost simultaneously leap onto its quarry, knock it over, and grab the throat or nape with its teeth. Despite their large size, tigers can reach speeds of about 49–65 km/h (30–40 mph) but only in short bursts; consequently, tigers must be close to their prey before they break cover. If the prey catches wind of the tiger’s presence before this, the tiger usually abandons the hunt rather than chase prey or battle it head-on. Horizontal leaps of up to 10 m (33 ft) have been reported, although leaps of around half this distance are more typical. One in 2 to 20 hunts, including stalking near potential prey, ends in a successful kill. Tigers are digitigrades;i.e., like all other cats, they walk on their on their toes. Most tigers have more than a 100 stripes, and no two tigers have the same stripe pattern.

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