The tiger (Panthera tigris) is a member of the Felidae family. The population of the Bengal tiger is 1,411 according to The National Tiger Conservation Authority. The direct causes for the decline in tiger population are habitat destruction, fragmentation and hunting.
A major concerted conservation effort known as Project Tiger has been underway since 1973. The project was spearheaded by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. The fundamental accomplishment of this programme has been the establishment of over 25 well-monitored tiger reserves in spaces where human development is forbidden. All trade in tiger parts is illegal under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
The southern Chinese martial art Hung Ga is based on the movements of the tiger and the crane. A 12-year-old tigress, Machhali, and a 14-year-old tiger, Sundar, have been conferred the first Travel Operations for Tigers (TOFT) Lifetime Achievement Award by the British High Commission in India. They are the most photographed members of their genus.
The tiger is an apex predator. An apex predator is one that has virtually no predators of its own, residing at the top of its food chain. It is also an obligate carnivore. An obligate carnivore is an animal that by its genetic makeup must eat the tissue of other animals in order to thrive. Of the eight subspecies of modern tigers the Bali, Javan and Caspian tigers are extinct.
It is believed that up to 12,000 tigers are being kept as private pets in the USA. That is more than the world's entire wild population. In a poll conducted by Animal Planet, the tiger was voted the world's favourite animal, narrowly beating man's best friend, the dog. A tigon or tigron is a hybrid cross between a male tiger and a female lion (lioness). The liger is a hybrid cross between a male lion and a tigress.
The tigers most recognisable feature is the pattern of dark vertical stripes that overlays near-white to reddish orange fur, with lighter under parts. Tigers reach up to 4mts (13ft) in total length and weigh up to 300kgs.
The largest of the four big cats form only four species of cat in the genus Panthera: the tiger, lion, leopard and jaguar. A more expansive definition also includes the cheetah, snow leopard, clouded leopard and cougar. The tiger is the national animal of Bangladesh, Nepal, India (Bengal Tiger) Malaysia (Malayan Tiger), North Korea and South Korea (Siberian Tiger).