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The Tiger: Camouflaged King Of The Jungle - Yellow Magpie

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Published on August 6th, 2011 | by Yellow Magpie


The Tiger: Camouflaged King Of The Jungle


The burning midday Sun is trying its utmost to upset the residents of the forest. Its sweltering heat appears to be causing the air to sweat. A faint flicker of light and a massive creature slinks out of the shadows as its claws and eyes lock on its target. The most powerful of all the big cats, the tiger is the not a force to be crossed.

The Key Differences Between Tigers And Lions

The tiger is both diurnal and solitary which immediately distinguishes it from the lion which is nocturnal and social.
Tigers are found scattered throughout parts of Asia but were never found in Africa.

Siberian Tiger And Cub

Unlike lionesses which have been observed displaying natural maternal instincts tigresses have to learn parenting skills and can initially be very clumsy when taking care of their young. It seems that tigers solitary nature may have something to do with this difference.

All tigers are very fond of water and bathing which belies their cold-climate origins. They need to constantly cool down in hot weather. Lions on the other hand dislike water and are much more tolerant of high temperatures.

Camouflaged  Killers

Tiger’s stripes provide ideal camouflage in the jungle and wooded areas in which they inhabit. Almost exclusive day-hunters, their ability to blend into the background and avoid detection until the very last minute allows them to be supreme hunters.

Tigers Versus Lions

Although people generally associate male lions as being the strongest of the large cats, this is erroneous. Male tigers are actually stronger possessing more muscle mass than similar sized lions. The largest wild cat, the Siberian Tiger, dwarfs adult lions, and is far stronger.

So if a lion and tiger do come into conflict with each other in captivity all things being equal the tiger will emerge victorious.

Male And Female Ligers

Ligers And Tiglons

For centuries people have experimented with tigers and lions by crossbreeding the two distinct species. Although this practice is firmly discouraged by respected zoos, breeders still persist. The hybrid that results is the largest of all the cats. Ligers and Tiglons.


Ligers are a cross between a male lion and a female tigress while the rarer tiglons are a male tiger, female lion mix.

White Tigers: The Dangers Of Inbreeding

Due to their exotic coats and their rarity, White Tigers are a highly popular draw for people.

The most common white tiger is the Bengal Tiger subspecies. Their white appearance is caused by a recessive gene. There have been accusations of inbreeding by breeders trying to obtain the highly desired white coats.


White Bengal Tiger Photo By Santosh Namby Chandran

It is worth taking note that three of the most famous tiger attacks on humans were caused by White Bengal Tigers resulting in three people being killed and one seriously injured. In 1998 Joy Holiday and Chuck Lizza were killed by the same White Tiger in separate incidents.

In 2003 Roy Horn of Siegfried and Roy was seriously injured after being attacked by his White Bengal Tiger, Montecore. In 2009 at Zion Wildlife Park, New Zealand, Dalu Mncube was killed by ‘Abu’, a White Tiger. Zion Wildlife Park was founded by Craig Busch, the ‘Lion Man’.

In the HBO documentary, also broadcast on Channel 4, Cat Dancers, Ron Holiday the wife of Joy, stated that he believed the tiger that killed both his wife and partner was inbred.

Human Conflict

The fact that tigers are mostly active during the day, coinciding with human activity inevitable means conflict between the two animals. Tigers have killed more people than any other cat. There are three main reasons for these attacks:

  1. People can encroach on the tiger’s territory causing the animal to lash out defensively.
  2. Old or infirm tigers often have difficulty catching their normal prey and resort to hunting people as they are easier to kill.
  3. The tiger’s habitat is becoming endangered as more and more land is needed for agriculture and other commercial functions.

Tigers are also wanted for their ‘medicinal’ properties particular in superstitious Chinese medicine. There is no scientific evidence for this whatsoever and it seems the chances of these ‘medicines’ providing effective medication is remote.

Tigers are also being continually hunted by people and an entire subspecies have become extinct due to human ignorance.

Vital Statistics

  • Tigers vary according to the sub-species, male Siberian Tigers can be over 3.5 metres (12 feet in length). Smaller tigers can be over 2.8 metres (nine feet) in length.
  • The Siberian tiger can weigh as much as 300 kilogrammes (650 lbs).
  • Tigers can live to be up to 15 years old while captive ones can live to be 20 years or more.
  • They are found scattered throughout Asia in India, Indonesia and parts of China.

Highly Recommended

Check out Yellow Magpie’s The Lion: King Of The Savannah to check out the Tiger’s feline relative.

Cat Dancers is an engrossing film about the Holidays who had a famous exotic animals act during the 1980’s and 90’s until tragedy befell them.

Tigers is a superbly well-written book by Steven Mills. Charting the peculiarities of the impressive Tiger it provides wonderful insight into these animals. It also contains some amazing photos that will leave you astounded at how well tigers can camouflage themselves as well as an excellent guide on where tigers are located in the wild.

Cat Dancers  and Tiger are available here from Amazon.

For people living in Ireland or the United Kingdom, you can access: Cat Dancers from here.

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