These beautiful, endangered, powerful cats inhabit diverse landscapes, from rainforests to grasslands, savannahs to mangrove forests. Their movements of stealth, low growls and striking colours have encouraged even novice wildlife explorers to head deep into the forest and tigers continue to be a a dream for wildlife photographers worldwide. Read on for a few lesser-known facts about the legendary Bengal tiger:
1. Tigers have been around for years
Tigers were around about 2 million years ago. Bengal tigers are among the largest big cats of any kind left on Earth. Bengal tigers have the longest canine teeth of any living cat, and also rival the Siberian tiger for the title of largest cats on Earth, both in terms of length and weight.
2. Tigers are still in captivity
There are more tigers in captivity in the US than are left in the wild.
3. Tigers have deep cultural significance
For many Asian cultures Bengal tigers have been woven into the cultures for thousands of years. The tiger is represented as the national animal of India and Bangladesh. It is also depicted on artifacts of age long civilisations such as the Indus Valley from over 4000 years ago.
4. Tigers have a literary legacy
The magnificent presence of tigers have been the inspiration behind numerous works of literature to family favourite films from movies such as the Jungle Book which features the tiger as 'Shere Khan' to 'The life of Pi' featuring the tiger as 'Richard Parker'
5. India changed history for tigers in the 70's:
In 1971 India made efforts to save Bengal tigers and outlawed the killing or capture of wild tigers.
In 1972 India made the Bengal tiger its national animal.
In 1973 India launched a Project Tiger conservation program which led to a peak in tiger sanctuaries and since has been ever-growing evident to the highest number of tiger increases.
6. India is the country with the largest number of wild tigers
Today India is home to the highest number of wild tigers of any kind in a single country, representing about 70% of the species' entire wild population. There are approx. 3900 tigers left worldwide and India is taking huge strides to ensure this figure continues to climb, a stellar example of how the right efforts can aid a species in making its way back from the brink of extinction.
The future for tigers:
Sadly threats are still apparent for tigers from environmental, to poachers and habitat loss, but there is hope, as we continue to work with the national parks, conservationists and naturalists we can raise awareness to these magnificent big cats, encourage safaris to in turn increase funding towards sanctuaries and continue to support the growth of tigers in India. Discover your next opportunity to spot the magnificent Bengal tiger here