White Tigers are a wonderful species in their own right. They are elegant and graceful, but at the same time are ready to fight for their right to survive. Today, in a world of destruction and growth, these tigers have tough day to day challenges they must face that are steadily growing worse as our society grows larger. What challenges do these magnifecent animals have to deal with in order to remain a species of elegance and grace and not just another history lesson? Is it possible for these tigers to meet these challenges, to adapt to the rapid changes in their surroundings? Can they overcome these challenges that have been thrown at them, these challenges that are decreasing their survival and slowly pushing their species to extincintion?
White tigers are an endangered species and it is said that less than a dozen have been seen in India in about a hundred years. In fact no sightings have been reported since 1951. This may be caused that the Royal Bengal tiger population has dropped from 40,000 to 1, 800 in the past ten years, and as few as 1 in every 10,000 tigers is white (www.cranes.org/whitetigers.com). White tigers are neither albinos nor a special species; they differ from the normally colored tigers by having blue eyes, a pink nose, and creamy white fur with black stripes. Tiger’s stripes are just like a human fingerprint, meaning that no two tigers have the same pattern of stripes. White tigers are not usually born from other white tigers. They get their color from double recessive allele. A Bengal tiger with two normal alleles or one normal or white allele is colored orange. Only a double dose of the mutant allele results in white tigers, and you can only imagine how often that happens (www.cranes.org/whitetigers.com).
The white tiger has long been the focus of human fear and respect for years, because of its powerful muscular body, loud roar and frightening snarl, revealing large sharp teeth, tigers spend all of their time alone (Thapar, 115). Each Tiger has its own territory, which it marks by scratching the barks off trees, spraying urine, and leaving piles of feces (cavendish, 696). Males are particularly aggressive toward other males and in some cases fights result in death of the weaker tiger. Their territories may contain 3 or 4 females, but in most cases the area extends to over 40 SQ miles (dutemple, 15). Tigers are nocturnal animals and prefer to hunt their food under cover of dense vegetation. They hunt their prey by stalking silently through the trees in a low crouch until it is within 66 ft (mcclung, 107). The tiger then bounds forward, knocking it’s victim over with a swipe of it’s huge forepaw and pouncing on the victims back as it falls to the ground (cavendish, 696). Tigers never creep up on their prey in the same direction as the wind is blowing, doing this may result in loss of their dinner (morris, 87). Once it has made a kill it then drags the dead carcas under cover before beginning to feed (Morris, 87). As the tiger eats it will make loud growling and snaraling noises to warn off the predetors in the area ( Thapar, 52). If for some reason the tiger has to leave its dinner before it is done eating it will cover the carcas with twigs to ensure it’s meal when it returns (Morris, 88). Tigers need to eat 40 pounds of meat a day and will commonly cover up to 12 miles each night in search of prey (McClung, 150). Tigers usually eat deer, young rhino’s, baby elephants, domestic animals at near by farms, and occasionaly leapords (Morris, 88). Once in a while, you know when it is in the moods for a snack with a little flavor to it, it will eat a human being. Although this is much less common than you think, tigers are actually very shy and try to steer clear from humans (Morris, 88).
Once a tiger has reached 3 to 4 years old, they are old enough to breed. Tigers usually breed every two to three years, and the female is the one that goes looking for her mate (McClung, 212). You see even in the animal kingdom females still have to do all the work to make anything happen. That is not relevent but I thought I would put it in here just for kicks. How the female search’s is, she walks around leaving her scents on the bushes and rocks and waits for an interested male to approach her. When the cubs are born, both the male and female go their separate ways, and the female is left with the responsobility of raising the cubs alone. The average time that tigers are pregante is usually, about 108 days after mating till the cubs are born (www.noahsays.com). The female usually has litters of about 3 to 4 cubs, in a special den she has chosen where she feels she is safe. The cubs are blind and weigh about 2.5 pounds at first, and they rely on their mother for everything (www.noahsays.com). The hardest thing for the mother is to keep them safe as she goes off hunting. This is one of the many challenges that the tigers have to face though. They can’t just sit in their dens and wait for food to come to them. They have to find it. It is not easy leaving your cubs alone for hours at a time. So when the female goes out hunting she will probably hide them in a cave or in between small crevices in the rocks, where they can’t be seen. Although this helps a little to ensure the cubs safety there are large snakes, such as Pythons may still sneak up on the cubs and crush them to death, then swallow them hole. When they get older the mother will try to hide them in clumps of tall grass, although they run into the same problem here as well with the Pythons (Cavendish, 697). Snakes are not the only danger the mother has to worry about. There are also leapords, wild dogs and hyenas are also on the prowl for an easy bite. So the mother must always hurry back as soon as possible (Tharpar, 199). Even still, after all the trouble the mother goes through to save her young, many of the young do become prey. Even before they are old enough to protect themselves, and only about 2 cubs will actually get the chance to become a fully grown white tiger (Morris, 92). It is very important for the mother to keep the cubs fur clean. The mother will spend a lot of time doing this to keep them healthy. The mother must also keep herself clean. Any cuts that she might have gotten hunting are cleaned so she does not get sick and die (DuTemple, 24). If the mother dies The cubs will be left alone and will then quickly starve to death (tharpar, 200).
White Tigers are not like most cat species, because they love the water. Especially on hot days they like to lie in the cool waters and relax. When the cubs are old enough the mother brings them to the water hole on a hot day to cool off and play in the water (Tharpar, 200). To ensure their survival in the wild without their mother, their mother will take them hunting with her. However still to young to hunt, they watch their mother eagerly learning as the mother attacks the prey. When she brings back the kill, they rush out to join her. The cubs learning how to hunt is a key in their survival, don’t know how to hunt when the time comes to leave their mother they starve. While they learn the techniques from their mother, the cubs practice theses hunting techniques with each other (Morris, 92). The final stage in their rearing process is when they are about 2 years old the mother will get up and walk away not looking back and never return. For the first time the animals will have to fend for themselves and make their own kills if they want to survive in the jungle (Morris, 92). This is one of the tiger’s most difficult challenges to face. Going into the jungle alone without their mother by their side.
There has been a drastic reduction in the range of the tiger during the 20th century, mainly because of the intense hunting pressure from humans. At one time the tiger was found in Southeast India, Russia, China, and Southeast Asia, but at least 3 out of 8 subspecies of tigers has become extinct since then (www.noahsays.com). The Indian government has made an attempt to conserve remaining tigers. Project Tiger was established in the early 1980’s, using 830 sq. kilometers of the Bandipur Forest in Southern India. It was designed for the protection of tigers, but constantly handicapped by the lack of funds, the project has little to show for its efforts. Park officials say Bandipur has 70 tigers now, but many conservationists think that the total is less (www.noahsays.com). Some of the tigers’ difficulties have resulted from loss of natural habitat, and further loss of their territories will lead to an even bigger drop in their numbers. One of the white tigers greatest threats now are poachers. Poachers want parts to sell for traditional medical substances used in some cultures, and also have found a good market for their skins. Laws to help tigers exist, but they are difficult to enforce when funds aren’t available to pay for adequate security forces (www.tigertail.com).