Why do Tigers have Stripes?

Tiger in Ranthambore National Park: bjornfree
Tiger in Ranthambore National Park: bjornfree

Following on from zebras and their stripes, we need to find out why tigers have stripes.

Tigers are beautiful cats, top of their food chain with their only predators being people, usually poachers.

They will fight and kill each other in territorial battles.  Male Tigers will kill tiger cubs which are not their own. They do this to protect or make way for their own blood line.

We watch a wonderful documentary about tigers in the Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan India.  A beautiful wildlife setting among ancient palaces.  Machli, (Hindi for fish) was Queen of Ranthambore for many years.  Eventually her daughter dethroned her.

Anyway, we digress.  Each tiger has a unique or personal stripe pattern.  Their stripes are amazingly beautiful but, how can orange and black stripes be beneficial to a tiger?

Many animals only have black and white vision therefore cannot see these bold colours.  To other animals a tiger cautiously walking through the undergrowth would look like shadows, perhaps grass swaying between shade and sunlight.  Tigers are well camouflaged and blend in with the undergrowth.  Broken, rugged, jagged, sometimes long or sometimes short, tiger stripes really do mimic their surroundings.

Tigers Endangered

Imagine a world without these?
Imagine a world without these?

There are less than 3,000 tigers left in the wild.  Poachers hunt tigers.  They kill them for their fur and perceived medicinal value.  Encroaching populations force tigers out of their natural and ancient territories and farming destroys their habitat.

It’s a heartbreaking situation, wildlife organisations estimate tigers in their natural habitat will soon become extinct, perhaps within a decade. Three types of tiger have already gone from the wild.

Scary indeed……

In the early twentieth century there were 100,000 tigers.  Today there are about 3,500 tigers in the wild.

Three sub species are extinct:  Bali tiger — extinct 1930s, Caspian tiger — extinct 1970s, Javan tiger — extinct 1980s.

Six subspecies remain: 4 endangered and 2 critically endangered.

Sad, very, very, very sad……

A Note to You and Me.

I hope we can visit Ranthambore National Park one day.  I’m sure it would be amazing to see tigers such as Machli or her descendents.

I hope people and the world really do protect tigers and the many, many species sharing similar futures.


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