The tiger (Panthera tigris) has always had a fearsome reputation and the notorious 'Man-eater of Champawat' in India was reputed to have killed 436 people. Today it is generally accepted that only old or injured tigers, unable to capture their usual prey, will attack humans.
This powerful cat has no predators other than man. It has suffered drastically from being hunted as a trophy, for its strikingly beautiful skin and for many of its body parts, which are used in traditional Chinese medicine. Three of the nine subspecies are now extinct and the others threatened. The Siberian or Amur tiger, the largest subspecies, is the most at risk. Only about 400 remain in the wild and, despite the protection afforded by international treaties, the WWF protection group reported three Amur tigers killed by poachers in December 2003.
The tiger's famous stripe patterns are unique: like human fingerprints, no two are the same.
Tigers are solitary rather than pack animals. The usual social group is a female and her young, who stay together until the cubs are ready to establish their own territory, at around 24-30 months.
Tigers hunt alone. One bite from their exceptionally powerful jaws is usually fatal.