TIGERS OF KANHA

Out of the nine predominant subspecies of Tigers, only six different sub-species of tigers are left on our planet currently . The world has already lost three of the nine subspecies of this charismatic species, further restricting its world population genetically to only six subspecies or geographical variation. India is one of the thirteen tiger-range countries. In some of these countries, tiger populations are very low, and in others they are almost functionally extinct.

EXTINCT TIGERS SPECIES

Three subspecies became extinct during the 20th century due to excessive hunting and lack of conservation programs.

BALI TIGER (Panthera tigris Balica)

It was a tiger that inhabited the island of Bali, Indonesia, probably extinct during the 1940s.

JAVAN TIGER (Panthera Tigris Sondaica)

This subspecies lived on the isle of Java until poaching and other factors condemned them to extinction in the mid-1970s.

CASPIAN TIGER (PantheraTtigris Virgata)

It used to wander all over Central Asia all the way to China, but it became extinct a few decades ago. It was a subspecies strongly associated with water bodies in its range of distribution.

EXISTING SUBSPECIES CONSERVATION STATUS

  • Panthera tigris tigris (Bengal Tiger) – Endangered (EN)
  • Panthera tigris altaica (Siberian tiger) – Endangered (EN)
  • Panthera tigris corbetti (Indochinese tiger) – Endangered (EN)
  • Panthera tigris jacksoni (Malayan tiger) – Critically Endangered (CR)
  • Panthera tigris amoyensis (South China tiger) – Critically Endangered (CR)
  • Panthera tigris sumatrae (Sumatran tiger) – Critically Endangered (CR)

BENGAL TIGER (PANTHERA TIGRIS TIGRIS)

It is perhaps the best-known subspecies of all and some people know it as the “Royal Bengal Indian tiger” because it is the area where it lives. In fact, most Royal Bengal tigers live in India, but there are some populations in Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh.

This subspecies has the characteristic orange coat with black stripes, although some individuals born with a white coat and blue eyes due to a genetic mutation; These are not considered a separate subspecies but only a genetic variety.

While they have two or three times more population than other subspecies, they are still at a very high risk of becoming extinct, so their current status classification is as endangered as the others.

SIBERIAN TIGER (PANTHERA TIGRIS ALTAICA)

Mainly found in regions of Russia has larger dimensions than that of the Bengal tiger but this has happened only for those specimens in captivity as the latter subspecies is bigger in the wild. Since it lives in a cold environment, its skin is thick and its coat very dense.

SUMATRAN TIGER (PANTHERA TIGRIS SUMATRAE)

This subspecies only inhabits the island of Sumatra and can be found in forests with little human activity. It is one of the smaller subspecies, but the coloration of its coat is considerably darker than the extinct Javan Tiger.

There are less than 400 of them left in the wild, and there are aggressive efforts to protect them and to get their population numbers back up. The fact that they inhabit Sumatra also means that they continue to be victims of poachers and hunters because the laws can’t always be enforced there as strictly as they should be.

MALAYAN TIGER (PANTHERA TIGRIS JACKSONI)

Distributed in areas of the Malay Peninsula, it was recognized as a subspecies only in 2004 and is in danger of extinction. It inhabits tropical forests.

This subspecies is also at risk with only about 250-500 of them remaining in the wild. This tiger often conflicts with humans because they prey on livestock when it is readily available.

INDOCHINESE TIGER (PANTHERA TIGRIS CORBETTI)

This cat from Southeast Asia owes its scientific name to a famous hunter who later became a devoted conservationist. Solitary and relatively small, it tends to evade populated areas, so the information about this subspecies is not as thorough as that of others.

There are only a few hundreds of them in the wild. Their main diet consists of wild pigs, deer, and even cattle thanks to the many people that have invaded their natural habitat to make settlements. In the 1930’s there were more than 2,000 of them, but open hunting for them, as well as the destruction of their habitat, has changed all.

SUBSPECIES POPULATION BY COUNTRY. LATEST CENSUS (2016)

Bengal Tigers

  • Bangaldesh : 106
  • Bhutan : 103
  • Nepal : 198
  • India : 2,226

Sumatran Tigers

  • Indonesia :  371

Malayan Tigers

  • Malaysia : 250

Siberian Tigers

  • Russia : 433

Indochinese Tigers

  • Thailand : 189
  • Vietnam : <5
  • Laos : 2
  • China : >7

Tigers have evolved over 2 million years, so their presence on the planet has been long. However, they now face severe threats that could take them to extinction which can get worse if conservation efforts do not give the results expected, to allow them to live in a natural environment free of dangers, at least to some extent.

There are around 4,000 tigers in the wild today and almost 10,000 including those in captivity. Yes, there are more tigers in captivity than in their natural habitat, and this fact should be worrisome.

The Latin name of Indian sub-species is Panthera tigris tigris (Royal Bengal tiger). As per the last All India Tiger Estimation, there are 2226 tigers in our country. This population forms around 57% of the world population of around 3900 tigers. Tiger populations in some of the range countries are extremely precarious, and their numbers lie around the presumed ecological thresholds as far as their viability is concerned.

While an adult male weights between 180-230 kg, adult females 135-185 kg. The total length of an adult male and adult female is 2.75-2.90 m. and 2.60 m. respectively. Each foreleg has five toes, and hind lege has four toes. An amazing predator, and adult giter has a very protective skeletal system and a strongly built, muscular body. The two strong forelimbs, reinforced additionally by the body weight and with retractile sharp and curved claws, help the hunter grab and hold its prey tightly.

The average life span of a tiger is around 12 years in the wild. In the captivity, however, with proper veterinary care and nutrition, they may survive upto 20 years. Tigers attain sexual maturity by around 2.5-3 years of age. The gestation period is around 105 days, and the female delivers a litter of 2-3 cubs. Even 4-5 cubs in a litter are not abnormal. These cubs are born blind and remain so for about 10 days.

The tigress is responsible for rearing and training these cubs. Weaving takes place when the cubs are around six months old. Cubs are trained in the art of survival through following their mother, hunting the prey, and avoiding risks. These cubs separate from their mother when they around 2 years old. At this time they reach semi-adulthood and are green horns, curious and explorative.

Tigers are obligate carnivores, or meat eaters, and their hunting strategies require dense forests cover. The hunt through stealth to stalk, and their prey base constitutes a wide range of ungulates, they are also known to kill porcupines, monkeys, and smaller mammals. Adult tigers are generally solitary, however, they are also seen with females during his “territory” against his rivals. Infighting between males is common in a high density area.

Insights

  • Currently, five sub-species of tigers in the world
  • Latin name of Indian sub-species: Panthera tigris tigris (Royal Bengal tiger)
  • Indian population: 2226 (as per the last four-yearly all India tiger population estimation)
  • Forms around 57% of the world population
  • Weight: Adult male (180-230 kg.) and adult female )135-185 kg.)
  • Length: Adult male 2.75-2.90 m. and adult female around 2.60 m.
  • Number of toes: 18 (5 in each fore leg, 4 in hind leg)
  • Life span: in the wild around 12 years, and in captivity around 20 years
  • Sexual maturity: At around 2.5-3 years
  • Gestation period: Around 105 days
  • Litter sie: 2-3 cubs, even 4-5 cubs are not abnormal
  • Cubs are born blind, open eyes in around 10 days
  • The tigress is responsible for rearing and training the cubs
  • Separation of cubs from mother at around 20-24 months age
  • Habits: Carnivore, peripatetic, adult males generally solitary
  • Habitat: Dense forests, with prey base
  • Prey base: ungulate species (hoofed animals), sometimes cattle also
  • Infighting between males common for territory

Generally speaking, successful tiger conservation involved stringent protection throughout the year, good prey base of a wide range of ungulates, and, of course, completely inviolate space for natural movement. Excellent protected areas like Kanha harbours amazing natal areas for these super cats. Tigers, however, vitally need to be conserved outside these protected areas through functional and effective ecological corridors.

Wildlife Estimate, Kanha Tiger Reserve ,2015

Division Tiger Leopard Chital Sambar Gaur Wild Pig Barking Deer
Core 108 127 29,253 8,037 5,311 6,383 2,162
Buffer 6,876 1,690 440 4,260 1,608

Mentioned below are a list of the past & existing tigers of Kanha Tiger Reserve.

Sr. No Official No Popular Name Born Mother Father Siblings
1 T1 Junior Kankata male 2013 Mid Budbudi Female ( T-83 ) Kankata T59 & T66
2 T2 Karai Ghati or Dabang male 2008 Mid Old Digdola female Junior Banda Not known
3 T3 Thin Stripe Male II Not known Not known Not known Not known
4 T4 Ronda Male 2011 Old Digdola female Kankata Not known
5 T8 Mundi Dadar Female Late 2008 Old Chuhri Female Old Naakkata New Naakkata & Mundi Dadar Male
6 T13 Parsatola Female Not known Old Udnakhero Female Munna ( T17 ) Not known
7 T17 Munna Male 2002 Old Indri Female Limping Male Not known
8 T19 Ronda Female Not known Not known Not known Not known
9 T22 Banno Female 2011 Mid Budbudi Female ( T-83 ) Late Kankata Bheema ( T28 ) & Bajrang ( T64 )
10 T24 Jamun Tola Male Not known Not known Not known Not known
11 T27 Dhawajhandi Female 2012 Mid Chhoti Mada ( T31 ) Kankata T34 & 2 unknown males
12 T29 Chhota Munna Male Early 2012 Mundi Dadar Female (T8 ) Munna ( T17 ) Neelam ( T65 ) & an unknown female cub
13 T30 Umarpani Male Late 2009 Late Umarpani Female Munna ( T17 ) An unknown male cub
14 T31 Chhoti Mada Female Mid 2008 Minkur Female Chain Male A male & female cub
15 T32 Umarjhola Female Mid 2011 Mahaveer Female ( T33 ) Thin Stripe Male Zila Line Female ( T58 )
16 T33 Mahaveer Female Mid 2005 Minkur Female a.k.a Badi Mada Limping Male Unknown
17 T34 Chimta Female Mid 2012 Choti Mada ( T31 ) Kankata Dhawajhandi Female ( T27 ) & 2 unknown males
18 T36 Bamhani Dadar Male 2012 Unknown Unknown Unknown
19 T50 Garhi Male 2011 – 12 Supkhar Female ( T40 ) Unknown Unknown
20 T56 Sangam male Early 2009 Old Indri Female Kankata Unknown
21 T57 Supkhar Male Mid 2010 Old Supkhar Female Old Supkhar Male 3 cubs origin unknown
22 T58 Zila Line Female Mid 2011 Mahaveer Female ( T33 ) Thin Stripe Male Umarjhula Female ( T32 )
23 T59 Kopedabri Female Mid 2013 Budbudi Female ( T83 ) Kankata T1 & T66
24 T64 Bajrang Male Mid 2011 Budbudi Female ( T83 ) Late Kankata Bheema ( T28 ) & Banno ( T22 )
25 T65 Neelam Female Early 2012 Mundi Dadar Female ( T8 ) Munna ( T17 ) Chota Munna ( T29 ) & an unknown female cub
26 T66 Sandukkhol Female Mid 2013 Budbudi Female ( T83 ) Kankata T1 & T59
27 T67 Dhamangaon Male a.k.a Yuvraj Early 2013 Amahi Female Karai Ghati Male ( T2 ) Unknown
28 T76 Naina Female Mid 2013 Mundi Dadar Female ( T8 ) Red Eye Male A male & female cub
29 T59 Kopedabri Female Mid 2013 Budbudi Female ( T83 ) Kankata T1 & T66

Legends of Past

Name Period
Banda 2001 – 2008
Konda 2001 – 2008
Kankata 2003 – 2015
Umarpani 2004 – 2015
Kingfisher 2010 – 2016
Bheema 2011 – 2016
Budbudi 2006 – 2018