How Are Tigers Unique?
Tigers, Panthera tigris, are the biggest cats of all, and they're the only large cats with stripes.
Watch the tiger population change
Most other members of the feline family are small, weighing 20 kg (44 lb) or less. Only lions and tigers reach weights of 225 kg (500 lb).
Once, eight subspecies of tigers roamed the forests of Asia. Now there are only five. Bali, Javan, and Caspian tigers were driven to extinction in just the past 50 years.
What Do Tigers Need to Survive?
Space An area the size of the District of Columbia with plenty
Prey Tigers average a large kill every eight days or
so,consuming more than 50 prey animals a year. In
a single night, they can eat 27 kg (60 lb) of meat.
Water Tigers never live too far from water. Particularly in
the tropics, water offers a cooling break from the heat.
Cover Tigers are solitary hunters, stalking and then killing in
a blinding flash. Without cover, the stealthy
approach doesn't work.
Mysterious, powerful, majestic--the tiger stands tall in our imaginations.
Where public land is degraded, people slip into reserves to graze animals, collect firewood, and kill the tiger's prey. Poachers have taken thousands of tigers to supply bones and other parts for traditional medicines.
Living near reserves takes a toll on people, too. Park animals destroy crops, tigers kill livestock--and, sometimes, people.
Fortunately, in the last 25 years, four long-term, in-depth studies have revealed much about how tigers interact, what factors shape their lives, and what makes them succeed--or fail--at finding new places to live in the face of declining habitat. Such information is critical to international efforts to save the tiger.
Many villagers living near Royal Chitwan National Park in Nepal now have a stake in the tiger's future.
In 1995, Nepal's legislature passed a law giving half the revenues from protected lands to local development. In addition, part of the park's degraded buffer zone came under local control. With an eye to tourism, villagers fenced off one area and allowed it to regenerate. Gradually, wildlife, including the tiger, recolonized.
In 1996 alone, ecotourism revenues from the project built a health unit and three schools.