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Why are Bengal Tigers Endangered?

By Janhvi Johorey, Psychologist specialized in animal therapy. January 9, 2017
Why are Bengal Tigers Endangered?

The Bengal tiger, also called the Royal Bengal tiger and scientifically known as Panthera tigris tigris, is found in a profusion of habitats. This majestic predator can be found in high altitudes, tropical and subtropical rainforests, grasslands, and mangroves; their range spreads across Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar and Nepal.

However, the Bengal tiger is an endangered species. Although it is protected by wildlife laws and it has been chosen as the national animal of India, its numbers keep decreasing. Why are Bengal tigers endangered? Stay with us at AnimalWised and find out.

You may also be interested in: Endangered Animals of the Mangrove Forests

Tiger, tiger burning bright?

Bengal tigers are large and beautiful cats. They can reach 130 inches (3.2 m) long and weigh between 250 to 700 pounds (115 to 320 kg). These solitary predators use their scent to mark their territory. Bengal tigers also have another rare distinction– some of these have a white coloring. Some white Bengal tigers are so pale that their stripes are almost or completely invisible. However, white Bengal tigers are not albinos.

The Bengal tiger is an endangered species, with population numbers of around 2,500 by estimates from 2011. It is primarily found in India, although it has been occasionally spotted in the other east Asian countries such as China and Nepal.

Why are Bengal Tigers Endangered? - Tiger, tiger burning bright?

Why are Bengal tigers endangered?

All tigers are endangered; in fact, the Bengal tiger is the most numerous of all tiger subspecies. However, it is under the constant threat of poaching threat. Tiger preserves, sanctuaries, and national parks have stabilized the population numbers, but poaching in Asia is still on the rise.

Bengal tigers are hunted illegally because their skin and some body parts are considered useful for traditional Asian medicine. Besides, Bengal tigers also face population fragmentation, habitat loss, and destruction of their usual prey.

What do Bengal tigers prey on?

Bengal tigers are carnivorous animals; they hunt large and medium-sized animals such as:

  • Wild boars
  • Badgers
  • Water buffaloes
  • Deer goats
  • Small elephant calves
  • Rhino calves
  • Gaur

With the loss of habitat and fragmentation of population, the Bengal tiger is also facing a demand-supply problem. With lessening vegetation and increasing human encroachments, most of the herbivores this carnivore predator feeds on are dwindling in numbers. Here you can learn, for example, why is the wild water buffalo endangered and what are the endangered animals of India.

Why are Bengal Tigers Endangered? - What do Bengal tigers prey on?

How does climate change affect Bengal tigers?

As climate change and global warming threaten their natural habitat, Bengal tigers are facing a severe threat. With the rise in ocean levels, tigers are losing habitat due to coastal erosion in areas such as Sunderbans. Rising sea levels claim more of their habitat, and sea water enters rivers causing freshwater to become saline. These are the reasons the tiger is moving northward and facing a shrinking natural habitat.

How do humans harm Bengal tigers?

Animal and human interests often clash, bringing conflict. Humans have made the Bengal tigers' habitat shrink, encroaching on their population and displacing them from their natural homes. Bengal tigers are also seen as threatening for human herders and their livestock and thereby hunted.

At the start of the 20th century, the worldwide tiger population was estimated at 100,000. In just 100 years, the situation has turned for the worst and the survival of the great big cat is now in question.

Why are Bengal tigers poached?

Bengal tigers also face other human threats such as poachers and hunters, who kill them for their valuable pelt. There is a booming black market trade of this sort of items, with Bengal tiger body parts being used in traditional Asian medicine.

Moreover, Bengal tigers are perceived to be among the most dangerous animals in India, and they have therefore been hunted as a trophy for big game hunters.

How does industrialization affect Bengal tigers?

Rampant population growth in India has reduced the range the Bengal tiger critically needs for its survival. Construction of roadways and crop cultivation has not only fragmented the Bengal tiger's territory, it has also reduced the availability of prey.

Today, the tigers' habitat range is 20 times smaller than what it was at the start of the 20th century. Between the forties and the eighties, 3 of the 8 tiger subspecies had already disappeared – the Caspian, Bali and Java tiger did not survive hunting, poaching, and deforestation.

How has the Bengal tiger population declined?

Between 1900 and 1972, the Bengal tiger population fell dramatically. The Bengal tiger is still the most numerous of the subspecies, accounting for roughly half of the world's tigers. However, Bengal tigers have been associated with status symbols, decorative items, and folk cures. A new poaching crisis threatens this predator with the indiscriminate felling of trees and rapid urbanization. Could the price of development be the Bengal tiger?

Why are Bengal Tigers Endangered? - How has the Bengal tiger population declined?

If you want to read similar articles to Why are Bengal Tigers Endangered?, we recommend you visit our Endangered animals category.

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