What do Bengal tigers eat

Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris)

The former ruler of the subcontinent

The Bengal tiger probably came to the Indian subcontinent around 12,000 years ago, so it is a relatively late immigrant. Most of the Bengal tigers live in India today, but their range extends to the Himalayas in Nepal and Bhutan, where they have been sighted at over 4000 meters above sea level, via Bangladesh to western Myanmar. The Sundarbans, the world's largest mangrove forests at the mouth of four major rivers in India and Bangladesh, are believed to be home to the largest contiguous tiger population.

The Bengal tiger was already 2500 BC. the symbol of today's India and has remained so to this day. It was once represented in large numbers in its area of ​​distribution. Today it is like its conspecifics everywhere in Asia: pushed back into isolated residual habitats by poaching and habitat loss, it only survives in small populations, mainly in protected areas and specially established tiger reserves.


But there are developments that are encouraging. In January 2015, the result of current censuses of tigers in India was announced: Since 2010, the national tiger population has increased by around 30 percent to 2,226 animals. The national tiger censuses in Nepal and Bhutan also show a positive trend: here too the number of tigers has increased since the last census.


After their populations seemed inexhaustible during the colonial period and tigers were hunted as a recreational sport in India until the early 1970s, the populations fell from an estimated 40,000 around 1900 to a low of around 1,800 animals in the 1970s. In 1972, the Bengal tiger was placed under protection in India under the patronage of Head of State Indira Gandhi and she initiated the India-wide "Project Tiger". As part of the project, 23 national parks were designated to protect the big cat. There are now 37 tiger sanctuaries in 17 states in India.

Despite significant decimation, more Bengal tigers now live in the wild than the sum of all other tiger subspecies combined.

The national parks are based on the core and buffer zone concept, which should enable the animals to reproduce undisturbed in the core zones and not be disturbed by people who are only allowed to enter the buffer zones. This “zoning” of protected areas and buffer zones is also intended to reduce encounters between tigers and humans. So-called human-tiger conflicts, in which livestock and domestic animals of the local population, but sometimes also people, are often harmed, are mostly the reason for revenge killings. People then kill the tigers out of anger, sadness and fear, which in the past was a major reason for the increasing disappearance of the big cats, along with loss of habitat and poaching.

In order for the tigers to continue to recover, the populations must also exchange and the individuals can colonize new territories. Therefore, green, intact corridors between the individual protected areas should be preserved. One area where this concept has been successful is in northern India. Here, in the so-called “Terai Arc”, there are eleven protected areas in the dry forests of the Himalayan foothills, which are connected by corridors and in which the core and buffer zone principle not only protect the tiger populations, but also the forest and thus the protection of livelihoods that benefits people. A coherent chain of tiger habitats is to be created along the Nepalese-Indian border as one of the last large retreats for the Bengal tiger.