Bengal tigers are magnificent creatures and many are found living in the Sundarban mangrove forests, which are located in the Eastern region of Bangladesh and India. Being carnivores, the Sundarban forest is a perfect hunting ground for the Bengal tiger, and they can sometimes be spotted stalking prey at the edge of the River Ganges.
Primarily, Bengal tigers are solitary animals and as they are nocturnal, (awake during the night) they usually hunt alone for their prey when it becomes dark. The most common prey eaten by Bengal tigers are; guar, (a type of ox which is native to South and Southeast Asia) sambar, chital, (a type of deer) wild boar, and buffalos. On occasion the Bengal tiger’s natural diet may also be supplemented by; pythons, baby rhinos, leopards, various species of monkeys, and even crocodiles. (Saving India’s Tigers, 2004)
Protein is a very important part of the Bengal tiger’s diet and, on average a fully grown Bengal tiger can eat around sixty five pounds of meat in one night. Each year it is estimated that a single Bengal tiger will kill around thirty buffaloes to maintain their diet, and they can easily attack and kill prey which is over twice their own physical size. (Wonderclub)
While the Bengal tiger’s impressive size makes it a powerful killing machine, in the wild Bengal tigers seem to prefer to eat smaller prey, and if attempting to catch larger prey will single out younger or older animals which require less effort to catch. Areas with a water source often make the best areas for Bengal tigers to stalk their prey.
Stalking is an important feature of how Bengal tigers hunt, and while they can run at quite considerable speeds, they can only usually keep this pace up for very short distances. As such, to ensure the best success when hunting, Bengal tigers have to be very skilled in the art of silently creeping up on their prey and pouncing at the most opportune moment.
Because Bengal tigers require such a large amount of protein in their diets, they often establish very large hunting grounds of up to thirty square metres. Both males and female Bengal tigers are extremely territorial and will defend their territories quite ferociously against intruders. Only during the breeding season will males and females be found together, and this co-existence will last for around twenty to eighty days. However, once a female has given birth, the cubs will often live with their mother for two to three years before finding their own territories. (Bengal-tigers.net, 2007)
While some Bengal tigers have been known to kill humans, incidences of Bengal tigers attacking humans are rare, and they will usually only attack humans if they feel threaten.
When kept in captivity, Bengal tigers are often fed a diet of the most available raw meats, and this is usually allocated in specific weighted quantities based on the overall size and weight of the tiger. To mimic hunting patterns and success in the wild, many captive tigers in zoos are fed large quantities of meat twice every week. (Saving India’s Tigers, 2004)
Bengal-tigers.net (2007) ‘Bengal Tigers’, [Online] Available from: http://www.bengal-tigers.net/ [Last Accessed: 11-11-09]
Saving India’s Tigers (2004) ‘FAQs’, [Online] Available from: http://www.saveindiastigers.co.uk/saving-tiger-faqs.html [Last Accessed: 11-11-09]
Wonderclub ‘Bengal Tiger’, [Online] Available from: http://wonderclub.com/Wildlife/mammals/BengalTiger.htm
[Last Accessed: 11-11-09]