Priority Species

Tiger:

Where are tigers found in the wild?

  • In the wild, tigers are found in India, Nepal, China, Russia, Bhutan, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Sumatra (Indonesia) and Malaysia. Eight sub-species of tiger existed in the past out of which three have been extinct for many years. The five surviving sub species of tiger are 
    • Indian Tiger or Royal Bengal Tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) found in India, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh; 
    • Indo-Chinese tiger (Panthera tigris corbetti) mainly found in Thailand and Peninsular Malaysia but are also found in Myanmar, Southern China, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam; 
    • Siberian or Amur Tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) found in far east Russia;
    • Sumatran Tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) found in the Indonesian island of Sumatra; 
    • South China Tiger (Panthera tigris amoyensis) found in China. The population found in Peninsular Malaysia has been given a status of separate sub species Panthera tigris jacksoni. 

    The three sub species of tigers that became extinct in the past century are: the Bali Tiger (Panthera tigris balica) that was found in the Indonesian island of Bali, the Javan Tiger (Panthera tigris sondaica)that was found in the Indonesian island of Java and the Caspian Tiger (Panthera tigris virgata) that was found in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkey, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Caucasus, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Recent reports indicate that the South China tiger is also extinct in the wild. Recent genetic studies indicate that the Caspian and Siberian tigers may have been the same sub species.

What is an Indian tiger?

  • The tiger has an orange coat patterned with broad black stripes. It has black ears, each with a winking white spot on the back, powerful forepaws, and a long banded tail. The total length of the tiger from the tip of its nose to the end of its tail is between 2.6 to 3 meters and it weighs anywhere between 135-280 kgs. The average life span of a tiger in the wild is about 14 to 16 years. 

    The Indian/Bengal tiger is found mainly in India, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh. The diet of an Indian tiger mainly consists of large wild ungulates such as chital (Axis axis), sambar (Cervus unicolor), barasingha (Cervus duvacelii), nilgai (Boselaphus tragocamelus) and gaur (Bos gaurus) and other animals such as the wild pig (Sus scrofa). It is an opportunistic feeder and can also kill large prey such as elephant calves (Elephas maximus), gaur (Bos gaurus) and wild buffalo (Bubalis arnee). Tigers may occasionally also kill sloth bear and leopards as well as smaller prey such as peafowl, langur, jungle fowl, hare etc. 

    Due to their large body size tigers are not good tree climbers like leopards. They can only climb along large leaning trees. But tigers are excellent swimmers and love water. Tigers are known to swim between islands in the Sunderbans.

Where do you find tigers in India?

  • Tigers are found in a variety of habitats, including tropical and sub tropical forests, evergreen forests, mangrove swamps and grasslands. In India, tigers are found in 19 states. For the better management of tiger habitats, forests have been demarcated as Tiger reserves, National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries, also known as Protected Areas. There are 39 Tiger Reserves in our country today, some of which were added recently. For more details about the tiger reserves visit www.projecttiger.nic.in 

What are white tigers?

  • White tigers are not a separate sub-species, but are white in color due to an expression of recessive genes. Interestingly, the white tigers are found only among the Indian tigers and can only be seen only in captivity now. The last white tiger reported in the wild was captured in the forests of Rewa in the state of Madhya Pradesh. The white tigers found in the zoos today are most likely descendants of this one tiger that was caught from the wild in Madhya Pradesh and later bred in captivity. White tigers have pink noses, white-to-cream coloured fur, and black, grey or chocolate-coloured stripes. Their eyes are usually blue, but may be green or amber.

What are the Indian and international laws that protect tigers?

  • Indian Tiger is an endangered animal and is listed in the Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. This act gives it protection against hunting/poaching and trade for skins, bones and body parts. Any person who commits such an offence is punishable with an imprisonment of not less than three years extending up to seven years along with a fine of not less than fifty thousand rupees which may extend up to two lakh rupees. In the event of a second or subsequent conviction he can receive imprisonment for a term of not less than seven years and a fine which shall be not less than five lakh rupees and can vary up to a maximum of fifty lakh rupees 

    The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) presently ratified by over 160 countries, makes international trade in tiger parts illegal. India has been a signatory of this convention since the year 1975.

Who are the major stakeholders in tiger conservation in India today?

  • The major stakeholders in tiger conservation in India are Government of India (Ministry of Environment and Forests), State Forest Departments, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (formerly known as the Project Tiger) and local communities. Tourism Departments, media and NGOs such as WWF-India and several other organizations also support tiger conservation initiatives.

Elephants:

In India, the Asian elephant was once widely distributed throughout the country, including in states like Punjab and Gujarat. Currently, they are found in four fragmented populations, in south, north, central and north-east India. Extreme habitat generalists, their habitat ranges from wet tropical evergreen forests to semi-arid thorn and scrub forests. However, highest densities of the elephant population are found in tropical deciduous forests. Elephants are ‘mega-herbivores’ that require vast tracts of forests, rich in food and water to survive. 

Key Facts

  • Common Name

    Indian elephant

  • Scientific Name

    Elephas maximus

  • Geographic habitat

    Widely distributed across India

  • Status

    Endangered (IUCN)


Greater One Horned Rhino

  • The preferred habitat of an Indian rhinoceros is alluvial flood plains and areas containing tall grasslands along the foothills of the Himalayas. Formerly, extensively distributed in the Gangetic plains, today the species is restricted to small habitats in Indo-Nepal terai and northern West Bengal and Assam. In India, rhinos are mainly found in Kaziranga NP, Pobitara WLS, Orang NP, Manas NP in Assam, Jaldapara NP and Garumara NP in West Bengal and Dudhwa TR in Uttar Pradesh.

Status

  • Vulnerable

Snow Leopard:

  • Snow leopards live in the mountainous regions of central and southern Asia. In India, their geographical range encompasses a large part of the western Himalayas including the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh in the eastern Himalayas. The last three states form part of the Eastern Himalayas – a priority global region of WWF and the Living Himalayas Network Initiative.
  • The snow leopard is listed as Endangered on the IUCN-World Conservation Union’s Red List of the Threatened Species. In addition, the snow leopard, like all big cats, is listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES), which makes trading of animal body parts (i.e., fur, bones and meat) illegal in signatory countries. It is also protected by several national laws in its range countries.
  • Remember:Listed in Schedule I of Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, in Appendix I of CITES and as Vulnerable on IUCN Red List (Present Status)

 


Red Panda

Geographic habitat

  • Sikkim, West Bengal, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh, Vulnerable
  • In India, it is found in Sikkim, western Arunachal Pradesh, Darjeeling district of West Bengal and parts of Meghalaya. It is also the state animal of Sikkim.
  • Listed as Vulnerable in the IUCN red list of Threatened Species and under Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, the red panda has the highest legal protection at par with other threatened species.
  • WWF-India has been working since 2005 in the eastern Himalayan region for the conservation of this species.

    Our goal is to ensure the long term survival of the red panda is the eastern Himalayas. This is achieved by implementing the following strategies:

  • Secure the red panda habitat outside the Protected Areas in Sikkim and Western Arunachal Pradesh
  • Garner stakeholder participation for red panda conservation
  • Mitigate threats to the red panda populations