The Royal Bengal Tiger has been spotted for the first time in twenty years in North Bengal’s Dooar forests. Two Tigers were spotted, in a sign that mating may be occurring in the region. Tigers are solitary animals, who only come together, now during the spring, and occasionally in the late autumn to mate. Less than 3,000 Royal Bengal Tigers are left in the wild, down from 40,000 at the beginning of the last century. The species is known to have four markedly different sub-species, veering from the classic gold and black striped animal of the jungles, to almost pure white in the Himalayan regions of India.
I saw Tigers last spring at the Tiger Tops Reserve in Southern Nepal. On the back of an elephant, with a mahout steering the beast by the ears, and a tracker perched up on the elephants rear, we passed by a growth of bushes, and heard a distinctive low growl. The Tiger was warning the elephant he was in there and not to tread closer. We positioned the elephant in front of the bushes, and the elephant used his trunk to clear away the bush so we could get a better look. A terrifying roar rent the air and an enraged Tiger leapt up – the elephant literally jumped backwards out of the way. Tigers can seriously maul an elephants trunk, and what with us on top as well, the elephant did well to get out of the way. The Tigers – a male and a female, growled for a bit and wandered about the bush looking for some peace and quiet. A couple of roars later, and it was time to go, and leave them in peace. I later found out a Tiger can bring down an elephant if need be and kill it. A human would have no chance.
An excellent slide show of Royal Bengal Tiger variations can be found courtesy of the Guardian here.