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Sleuth, Stealth and Deadly Accuracy: Hunting Habits of the Tiger

Desiree Michels
 


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ATiger safari is one of the most sought after nature experiences on offer for wildlife enthusiasts. Reserves, such as thePench, Bandhavgarh, Panna and Kanha National Parks, in India, provide incredible opportunities for those on a Tiger safari to observe this powerful beast in its natural environment.

Learning about an animal’s behaviour before seeing them in the wild can make the experience all the more rewarding. Being able tointerpret behaviour patterns and identify tell-tale signs, such as territory markings, can offer a greater insight into the solitary hunting techniques of the magnificentPanthera tigris.

On the Hunt

This is a solitary animal, which most often hunts alone. Primarily carnivorous, they are constantly on the prowl and they need to take down largeprey that can feed them for many days. The species has evolved and adapted to become one of the most highly successful hunters in the animal kingdom.

  • Claws: Their claws can be up to 10 centimetres in order to help them secure their prey with ease. They haveone claw on each of their front paws that doesn’t touch the ground when they walk or run, which known as the dewclaw. This is especially useful in grasping on to larger prey.
  • Eyesight and hearing: The binocular vision of this species means they have a three-dimensional impression of the world around them. They can accurately judge depth and distance, which vital for catching fast moving prey. Their hearing is even more accurate, due to their dish-like rotating ears, which pick up on even the softest sounds.
  • Muscles: Thanks to the animal’s amazingly powerful leg muscles, it can reach speeds of up to 50 miles an hour.
  • Jaws and teeth: The big cats have extremely powerful jaws, which are well adapted to securing prey and snapping bones.

Primary Hunting Techniques

Along with specific physical features, these big cats also have developed certain effective hunting techniques to help them secure enough food sources to sustain them.

  • Concealment and stalking: These apex predators conceal themselves in long grass as they stalk their prey and prefer hunting on overcast days, evenings and during the night, when their superior hearing and vision give them an advantage. They remain downwind of their quarry, moving slowly to minimise the chance of startling them. Once they’re a few metres behind, they will judge the distance then put on a sudden burst of speed to take down the catch.
  • The kill: With their hind paws firmly planted on the ground, they reach up to the neck of theirprey and make the kill swiftly using their powerful jaws to snap the spinal cord. When taking down larger animals, they firmly fasten their jaws around the neck to bring about a quick death.

Experience the Hunt on a Tiger Safari

Although the behaviour of the formidable Panthera tigris has been caught many times on film, it is only by seeing this magnificent creature in the wild that you can truly appreciate its immense power. A well-organised dedicatedTiger safari is the ideal way for nature lovers to experience the thrill of observing the animal in its natural habitat.

Author Plate

Marissa Ellis-Snow is a freelance nature writer with a special interest in Tiger watching. As a passionate lover of wildlife, Marissa chooses the expert-led Tiger safari itineraries organised by Naturetrek, which have brought her unforgettable sightings of a wide range of species in some of the most spectacular regions on Earth.

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