THE SOLITARY HUNTER WITH WILD AND OLD SOUL
“No man can tame a tiger into the kitten by stroking it.”
-Franklin D. Roosevelt
When you look at the tiger, you don’t see only wonderful and large wild cat but the whole symbol of lonely strength, proud solitude and elegant hunting skills. The tiger is not just a mesmerising mammal with authentic nature but the mysterious predator that keep wildlife clean and in balance. It is usually forgotten that the tigers are the biggest wild cats in the world which is logical since the ordinary adault weights about 363 kg and it could be 3,3 m long. This doesn’t make them slowly during the hunting fitness because they could develop speed up to 65 km/hour which turns them into perfect athletes in feline world. Not to ignore the fact that tigers are great swimmers unlike other wild cats that usually avoid water or anything what has to do with water.
They are known from early evolution in zoology and this means that the first tigers appeared even 2 millions years ago. This is confirmed by some found fossils in China. Those ancient tigers had another look but still could be categorised as ancestors of nowadays tigers. Related to this, if you might think that the real sabre-toothed tiger is the ancient relative to our tigers, you should know that is not true. The Smilodon or the wild cat with tooth like a double-edged knife is a wild cat but never belonged to a tiger family itself.
In modern age, they have lifespan up to 25 years, depending if they are in captivity or in wildness and what is interesting above all, the tigers are considered to be real kings of the jungle. The old quote that lions are the kings of jungle must be replaced by the accurate fact that tigers are rocking the jungle. First, they are the bigger wild cats than the lions and second, even more important, their habitat is jungle. So, no, there is no chance for a lion to be the king of the jungle, even if he could.
Where do tigers live ? They are mostly located in different parts of Asia, having the following 13 countries like home: India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Russia, China, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. Over 70% of the global wild tiger population lives in India alone so doesn’t surprise that tiger is India´s national animal. Having that in mind, there are the 5 living subspecies of tigers: Bengal tiger, Sumatran tiger, South China Tiger, Indochinese Tiger, and Siberian Tiger. Unfortunately, the Bali, Caspian, and Javan tigers have all gone extinct. The main reason for tigers extinction is the loss of habitat and the aggressive industrialization made by humans. Those majestic cats lose their territory and prey so they also lose the solitary areas to hunt and live. This causes the conflict with locals since the tigers are coming close to the villages, searching for food and something happens the clash. Just one punch of their claws can kill the human being so it is always better not to cross with them in the nature and risk the injury or even death. The tigers are endangered also because of their value on the black wildlife market where their parts are sold for some irrelevant reasons: pelts, meat and the rest of the body parts. The primitive belief of some nations and lands that tiger parts can help in medicine or against infertility put their lives into the danger.
Did you know that the tigers have fake eyes or ocelli. These are the white spots of fur on back of each ear, that usually scare other animals because they think they are monitored by tigers. This is not the only specific thing about them. There is their stripe pattern that is something like tiger unique fingerprint but imprinted in the fur pattern which means that there is no two tigers in the world that have the same stripes. Those stripes go deep into the skin. The natural colour of their fur help them merge with natural surroundings and playing well as stealthy predator and controller of ecosystem. They do hunt mostly alone and at night and relax during the day. They do not need company but sometimes you can find the group of the tigers in the wilderness and it is known as ambush or streak. That is also the name for tigress with the cub. The Youngs are being born totally blind so they follow their mom based on her scent. It is a misery but only few can survive since they miss to keep a pace with the mom or even being killed by male tiger.
What I also find fascinating is that tigers can breed with other wild cats:“Tigers can also mates with other big cats, for example, if a male Tiger mates with female Lion, the hybrid born animal is known as Tigon. They are the largest cat species and can grow bigger than Liger which is a mix breed of male Lion and female Tiger. The height of a Liger is about 4.5 feet while on all four legs and about 6 feet tall when standing.You can find Tigons in at least nine countries that include USA, Czech Republic, China, Iran, Russia, India, UAE and Argentina. Cross breeding of tigers are banned in Taiwan.”
Beside their alluring look, the tigers have one more thing to offer, the antiseptic saliva and they can imitate the coal of other animals. Isn’t that great ? It is also confirmed that they can roar but cant really purr. This is to be replaced by having closed eyes and showing pleasure and that they feel safe. The next funny thing is that the urine of tiger smells like buttered popcorn. This is also a stop sign for intruders into the tiger area so don’t be fooled by popcorns.
The tigers aren’t selfish with their food. If they have it, they will share it with the other fellows. This turn them into more humble animals than lions. Nevertheless, that doesn’t keep them safe and sound in our age. There are still more caged tigers than those in wilderness and their reproduction is also so difficult. The female has a fertility time in one year only about 4-5 days and if you know how challenging is to get offspring and make them survive the first months, you will understand the lack of tiger population.
This has to be changed, as soon as possible. The global community need to spread awareness that tigers are the guardians of healthy habitat and they have to have their territory and source of food. They do not see humans a a prey but they wont hesitate to attack and defend themselves if they feel endangered. This is why the conflict between those wonderful wild cats and humans must be prevented, through the education and wildlife strategy of coexistence. We have to act now because tomorrow will be too late and we will see them only on the photos. The tigers have their right to be here, the same right as all human beings.
One thought on “THE EYE OF THE TIGER: THE LARGEST WILD CAT AND ITS EXOTIC BEAUTY”
Sarah’s delightful and inspiring article induced me to recall the etymology of the noun ‘tiger’…
The linguistic root reaches back to circa 3000 BCE in Sumeria (i.e. modern southern Iraq): at that time, there were an estimated 1 million Asian tigers inhabiting the region. It was often the case that ancient Sumerians applied specific appellations to animals from their characteristics, and it may very well have been that the Asiatic tiger was named from The Tigris River, which flows through southern Iraq.
The ancient Sumerian appellation of the river was ‘Idig-ina’; meaning ‘swiftly-moving water’. Eventually, this evolved into the Ancient Persian ‘Tigra’ and the Ancient Greek ‘Τίγρις’ (i.e. Tigris). As the civilisations came and went, the noun would have evolved into the respective idiom: the Greeks were in Mesopotamia c. 330 BCE; although, they would have encountered tigers in Asia Minor, beforehand. Thus, pre-invasion trading with Persians points to the origin: a swiftly-moving predatory cat.
It was the Swedish scientist Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778) who first scientifically-documented the tiger in 1758 as ‘Felis tigris’. Not until 1929 did an English taxonomist manifest the scientific appellation of ‘Panthera tigris’, from the Ancient Greek ‘πάνθηρ’ (i.e. panther = all wild animal).
The ancient flora and fauna that still exist today reveal to us how humans perceived them in past millennia through the evolution of the names…