The tiger is the largest of the big cats and is regarded as one of the world's charismatic megafauna. Numerous travellers enjoy seeing the elusive and beautiful animal in its natural habitat.
|The tiger's roar filled the cave with thunder. Mother Wolf shook herself clear of the cubs and sprang forward, her eyes, like two green moons in the darkness, facing the blazing eyes of Shere Khan.
—Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Book
Tigers are the largest feline species, and native to much of Asia, ranging from the Siberian tiger of the frigid Russian Far East to the Malayan tiger of the hot and humid tropics in Southeast Asia. They are apex predators.
In 1900, the global tiger population was estimated to have been at 100,000, which declined to around 3,200 in 2010. Since then, due to conservation efforts the number of tigers in the wild has steadily increased to just under 4,000. Despite this, the tiger is still critically endangered, with many populations and subspecies vulnerable to habitat fragmentation and poaching.
- 1Bandhavgarh National Park (Madhya Pradesh, India). Known for having the highest density of Bengal tigers in the world, Bandhavgarh is the one of the most accessible places to see tigers in the wild. Most visitors will be able to sight tigers more than once on a safari.
- 2 Chitwan National Park (Central Nepal). The Tiger Conservation Unit 8s a protected area of 2,075 km².
- Durminskoye Reserve (near Khabarovsk, Russia). Home to the last Siberian Tigers left in the wild.
- 3 Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park (Central Bhutan). The best example of the mid-Himalayan ecosystems of the Eastern Himalaya.
- 4 Kerinci Seblat National Park (Western Sumatra). The most important location in Sumatra for wild Sumatran Tiger.
- 5 Ranthambore National Park (Sawai Madhopur, Rajasthan, India). One of the best places in India to see tigers in the wild.
- 6 Sundarbans. The largest littoral mangrove forest in the world, straddling the India–Bangladesh border.
- 7 Zov Tigra National Park (Nakhodka, Russia). The first protected area established in Russia's Far East to help conserve the Siberian tiger and other species, only portions of the 200,000 acre (82,000 hectare) national park are accessible to the public. Visitors must be accompanied by park rangers.
Stay safe edit
- See also: Dangerous animals
While tigers rarely stalk and hunt humans, their sharp claws, sharp teeth, powerful jaws, explosive temper, territorial nature, and their incredible stamina and strength make them extremely fearsome and dangerous.
Do not urinate in their territory; tigers may believe that you are challenging their ownership of their territory, as they themselves mark their territories by urinating.
If you come face to face with a tiger, remain calm and back away slowly from them. Trying to run away from a tiger or showing a tiger that you're afraid of them will invite them to attack you. Making noises that a tiger isn't accustomed to may make a tiger feel less secure and it would most likely leave you alone.
Do not hit, yell at, throw objects at, or antagonise a tiger in any way; tigers can respond to aggression with aggression, and people have been killed for doing this.
If you come across a tiger that appears to be feeble, weak, in need of help, or old, do not approach it; you may end up making yourself their meal or a target of their aggression. Always give such tigers a wide berth.
As tempting as it may be, do not approach or interact with tiger cubs! As is the case with most mothers in the animal kingdom, mother tigers will readily defend their cubs against any threats. Although it is rare to spot tiger cubs in the wild, vacate the area immediately if you see one.
- See also: Animal ethics
It is a good idea to research the reserves you are thinking about travelling to make sure that the tour is eco-friendly and benefits the local people. India, Russia, Nepal and Bhutan have put in efforts to conserve and grow their tiger populations and are generally the recommended places to travel. Avoid going to places where tigers are kept in captivity, drugged and are in terrible condition. Countries such as China and Thailand have developed a reputation for subjecting its tigers to abuse and letting visitors hug or take selfies with the tigers while they are sedated.