What do Tigers need to survive? Let’s Know About It

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What do Tigers need to survive? Let’s get clarified

Tiger (Panthera tigiris) is the largest surviving big cat on planet earth. It can weigh 90 to 310 kgs on average. And, there are altogether six surviving subspecies of tigers surviving at present.

These six surviving subspecies of tigers are Amur tiger, Bengal tiger, Indochinese tiger, Malayan tiger, South China tiger, and Sumatran tiger.

The largest big cat is the Amur tiger (Siberian tiger), with males having a weight of up to 660 pounds and measuring up to 10 feet in length from nose to tip of the tail.

And, India has the largest population of Tigers in the world with most of the tigers living in small isolated pockets.

Tigers are listed in the ICUN Red List of Threatened Species as Endangered species. Meaning that they are very likely to get extinct in the near future due to their decreasing population.

Major reasons for their population decline are habitat destruction, habitat fragmentation, and poaching due to the various human-wildlife conflicts occurring in the high human population density regions.

So, at present, there is a high need to work for the survival of this species in order to protect it from getting extinct. So, there is of high importance to learn about their needs for survival.

So, let’s get cleared about What do Tigers need in order to survive so that we can know more about this endangered species and its survival needs and cause.

Let’s get started. So, keep reading…

Image: Zulnureen Shariff / Unsplash

What do Tigers need to survive in the wild?

First of all, they will need their type of habitat with easy access to water and prey. They always prefer places where they can easily camouflage and so can maintain their position as an ambush predator.

Depending on the species they can stay in rainforests, grasslands, savannas, and even mangrove swamps. Just like the Bengal Tiger that is well-adapted to living in Mangrove swamps.

They can tolerate staying in a great variety of environments where nights can be as cold as −40 °C to the mangrove swamps with the temperature reaching more than 40 °C.

They prefer having large trees, rivers, and swamps in their areas. It’s because they can be also seen bathing and swimming in the water, and even climbing up the trees to spectate over their territory and prey.

Tigers are mostly nocturnal (more active at night) and so they prefer areas where there’s good availability of prey at nighttime or during the dawn or dusk time of the day.

An adult male tiger can eat about 40 kg of meat at one time with which it can survive for at least a week. So, they prefer living in those areas where there is good availability of large-bodied prey population for them to feed on.

They prefer preying on large-bodied animals like moose, deer, elk, pigs, cows, horses, buffalos, elephant cubs, rhinoceros calves, wild dogs, and goats in order to fulfill their dietary needs.


What do Tigers need to survive in the zoo?

Tigers stay at the utmost care under the proper surveillance of zookeepers and veterinarians when they are in the zoo.

So, there’s no issue for any human-tiger conflict or any major health issues that can to negatively impact their existence.

In zoos, their living area must mimic their wild habitat type. It is always best if the tigers’ habitat in the zoo is built as separate bio-secure units within the rehabilitation facility.

A bio-secure unit must be designed in such a way that there is a solid-walled den or cage for the tiger to sleep with a small outdoor enclosure which will be widely connected to a large outdoor place for the tiger to spend most of its time.

The solid-walled den or cage must be small, simple, solid-walled, well-ventilated, and roofed having a suggested area of at least 3m x 3.5m.

The inner side of the den must be dark with only a very dim light inside it.

When in the outdoor enclosure there must be enough shaded area for the tiger. They like to bathe very often in order to thermoregulate themselves, so there should also be a small water body or pond for them.

Diets for tigers can include whole body prey or carcasses of beef, goat, or deer. They must be provided with 4 to 18 kgs of meat or meat that is 5 to 6% of their approx body weight at least five times a week.

They must be provided with fresh, portable, chlorinated mineral drinking water at regular intervals. The drinking water tank must be well-cleaned and hygenated at least after every two to three days.


What are Tigers’ notable adaptations that help them survive?

Their ability to camouflage is noteworthy due to their striped coat. This helps them to better blend with their surroundings and remain hidden from the vision of their prey.

When in the deep wild, they act mostly nocturnal and so can be seen mostly hunting at the night, dawn, or dusk time.

They can see clearly in the dark because they have more rods than the cones in the retina of their eyes.

Tigers have white spots surrounded by black fur on the back of their ears. This helps the tiger to give false alarms of their presence to other animals making those animals think that the tiger is watching them and so this also discourage other animals from attacking the tigers from behind.

They are known for their hunting skills to slowly and quietly follow their noticed prey, sneak without being noticed by the prey, and then give a surprise attack. That’s why they are also called ambush predators.

Their strong and long hind limbs, flexible spines and strong muscles, powerful jaw with large canine teeth, and razor-sharp forelimb claws help them to kill large prey with a sudden surprise attack at just one powerful bite.

Their powerful jaw is equipped with an array of teeth for killing, chewing, tearing, and biting purposes.

With large canine teeth (2.5 to 3 inches) they can deliver two times more biting force than a lion, thus leading to the faster killing of their prey.

Their sense of smell and hearing is very strong. This better helps them to hunt and secure their territorial boundaries so well. However, their sense of smell is not so good as other big cats.

Using their sense of hearing they are finely able to communicate and listen through infrasound (sound waves below a frequency of 20 Hz) which is actually inaudible to most other species.

They stay and hunt alone. Although, the mothers stay with their cubs. This aids them in giving the benefit of hunting in stealth and so better chances of survival due to fewer responsibilities as compared to living in a group.

Due to their larger size and greater strength, they can easily knock their prey off balance. Then they attempt to take down their prey with a very powerful bite to the neck and/or throat and so then suffocating the prey to death.

Tiger cubs can follow their mother through tall grasses very easily by precisely following the mom’s long tail and white-spotted ear from the back. This also ensures the cubs’ learning and a good rate of survival.


Do Tigers need shelter?

Yes, just like any other animal tigers also need shelter. They make their shelter under the canopy of large shaded trees, inside natural trees and shrubs covered caves, inside rocky caves, dens, densely grass-covered locations, crevices, or even in the hollow of a large tree.

They don’t make their shelter. In fact, these solitary animals do take over new territory and arrange for themselves a new shelter in their native environment all within their own territory.

In order to hide their cubs, mother tigers have been known to make dens under the concealment of the thick bushes and trees.

Mother tigress does this in order to keep her vulnerable cubs hidden from other tigers for around 6 months at least until they are old enough to feed on prey brought by their mother.

Their shelter keeps them away from blowing wind, harsh climatic conditions, and heavy rainfall which in turn helps them to maintain their body homeostasis.

They are often seen making their shelter near to the water bodies where they can swim. Their territories will have long trees on which it can climb up to spectate its prey and any invading animal.

Taking the example of the Bengal Tiger, it is normally found near tall grasses in the tall trees amidst the mangrove swamps, because the tiger needs a good place to hide from its prey and to stalk on them all near to the water bodies.

Also, for those tigers that live inside dens and rocky shades, help them to better camouflage and hide from their preys’ vision. And, also to act as ambush predators by staking their prey from inside their shelter very often.


How does a Tiger survive in its environment?

Tigers survive in their environment due to their ability to camouflage, sneak up and do a surprise attack, stealthy hunting habits, due to having a strong powerful body and jaws, its ability to climb trees and swim, mate and breed all around the year (mostly between May to June months), ability to better thermoregulate, ability to withstand temperature as cold as −40 °C to temperature reaching more than 40 °C.

And also that they are apex predators, so there’s no danger for the adult tigers to be hunted by another predator.

Tigers serve as apex predators and the largest carnivore in their ecosystem. And so, they control natural prey populations without themselves being preyed upon by other animals.

They need water to drink and swim. So, they can be seen living near the water ponds and large water swamps.

They have been often seen swimming and crossing the large water bodies for territorial investigation, locomoting from one place to another, for hunting purposes, and mostly to thermoregulate their body temperature.

Tigers due to the presence of large claws, large teeth, and powerful forelimbs can very easily hold other animals down and kill them with a single powerful bite. Due to this ability, they don’t have to work much harder to take down prey.

Also due to their strong flexible spines, powerful and long hindlimbs, they can jump up to 33 feet in a single leap. This gives them their ability to better swim, run and capture prey, and so to blend in their ecological niche very well.


What will happen if Tigers go extinct?

Tigers being apex predators act so well in order to stabilize the ecological balance by keeping a check on the prey populations.

In doing so, they keep a balance over the various ecological niches and the food chain and food web ecosystems.

This in turn promotes the harmony of the planet’s ecosystems while maintaining the proper energy flow.

So, protecting the tigers is very much important.

And so, if tigers go extinct then it will create an imbalance in the preys’ population which in turn will disbalance the energy flow, various food webs and food chains, and also the environmental conditions directly or indirectly in the type of ecosystem the tigers are in.

Tigers mostly feed on carnivores like cows, deers, buffaloes, etc. So, tigers’ existence will keep these prey’s population in limit and so, in turn, will keep the balance on the forest vegetation availability which these carnivores feed upon as well.

And so, protecting the tigers will also safeguard the availability of various critically important goods and services of the wild that millions of people rely on every day.

Also due to the balance on the forest vegetation, it will highly mitigate climate change. This will enrich afforestation and so will also maintain the clean and fresh oxygen availability in the air.

These forests will also act as critical carbon storage warehouses for the ecosystem and so for nature altogether.

They will also play a key role in regulating the flow of freshwater, maintaining a great ecological balance, balancing the growth of prey and predatory species if a good balance in the existence of tiger population in the ecosystem is conserved.


How can we help Tigers survive?

First and foremost, it is our responsibility to make ourselves aware of the various knowledge-worthy data and insights about the endangered tigers, and also to aware others of the same.

We help Tigers survive and protect them from getting extinct by taking various steps for conserving the tiger population in wildlife sanctuaries, tiger reserves, national parks, and in the various bio-secure zoos, conservation care habitats, various rehabilitation facilities, etc.

The human-animal conflict must be greatly reduced. Like deforestation, poaching tigers and their prey animals, excessive tourism close to their habitat must also be reduced considerably.

Taking consideration of their habitat protection by creating a safe place for them in their own natural ecosystem will also work great in this step.

Their habitat protection can be done by naturalists and conservationists in the various sanctuaries and forests by reducing any chances of human hunting by the tigers, or harming the species by humans, and vice-versa.

We can also think about attending any fundraising events for the tigers and wildlife organizations. And so, we must take our turn to volunteer and work for such events and organizations whenever we can to play our role in the conservation of tigers.

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