The Tiger

Tiger Tiger burning bright

In the forest of the night….

The beginning of the famous poem by William Blake

Tigers have captured our imagination since the beginning of time. William Blake’s poem ‘Tyger Tyger burning bright…’ published in 1794 is just one example. Another of course is the tiger, Shere Khan in The Jungle Book and brought to us all by Walt Disney. It is not surprising that tigers have taken up such a firm place in our perception of the wild and in our understanding of the cat family. They are the largest in the felid family. They are also perhaps the most remarkable with their majestic nature, exotic stripes and striking amber eyes. Tigers used to range from the Black Sea to the Indian Ocean in the South and from Kolyma to Sumatra in the East. This range has now been reduced by 93% and like so much of our wildlife, tigers are an endangered and threatened species. Not only does the destruction of their habitat have a huge effect on their ability to survive and breed but tigers are poached for their beautiful pelts, bones, teeth, claws and even for their whiskers. Experts believe that only around 3800 tigers survive in the World today.

Some facts you might not know…

Tigers love water – often swimming in order to hunt and lying in water to relax and cool down.

The stripes on a tiger are unique like a human’s finger prints.

Tigers drink by flicking drops of water into the air and catching them.

Tigers saliva has disinfecting properties.

Tigers are only receptive to mate for 4 – 5 days a year.

Tigers tend to ambush their prey and will abandon the hunt if seen.

Aside from the polar bear the tiger has the largest brain of the carnivores.

Tigers have excellent memories and often out perform dogs and even humans.

Tigers hunt mostly by day and thus their eyes are different with round not slitted pupils like the other cats.

The onward march of the human race with the spread of urbanisation, the constant encroachment of our wild land and man’s greed fuelling poaching, is a ticking time bomb for this beautiful animal.

Deborah Boyd-Moss IDEAS & THOUGHTS On behalf of PLANET EARTH

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