Roaring Rivals: Bengal Tiger’s Battle Against Other Animals

bengal Tiger's Battles agains other animals in the wild

In the heart of the wild, where survival is a relentless struggle, the Bengal tiger reigns as one of nature’s most formidable predators. Its golden coat and piercing gaze evoke both fear and admiration, as it navigates its lush domain with unparalleled grace. But what happens when this apex predator crosses paths with other inhabitants of its realm? In this exploration, we delve into the enthralling world of the Bengal tiger’s encounters with a diverse cast of characters – from the colossal Gaur to the gentle giants of the elephant world, the elusive leopard, the prehistoric crocodile, cunning packs of wild dogs, shaggy coated sloth bear, bulky wild boar and porcupine, the largest rodent of India.

Tigers technique of killing its prey depends on the size of the prey. A small prey like spotted deer can be held from any side and killed. Sambar deer is first held from his hindside, and once the stag falls, the tiger will gradually get on his neck, and strangulate him. A Gaur he will either hamstring it, or hold it by its neck, and roll over, so that the neck breaks and the Gaur dies. Elephants usually are injured and left to die over a day or two.

 

Bengal Tiger vs. Gaur (Indian Bison):

The Gaur is a massive herbivore and one of the largest wild cattle species. Bengal tigers occasionally prey on them when the need arises. Normally they would for the young ones, but the tigers often bring down the full male adult Gaurs too as seen many a times in India.  These encounters can be quite intense, as Gaur are formidable opponents with their size and strength. Tigers rely on their stealth and agility to target vulnerable Gaur and avoid head-on confrontation with healthy adults. It has been seen that they would hamstring a Gaur, bring him down and start to eat while Gaur is alive. At times couple of sub-adults learning to hunt also taken down Gaurs.

 

bengal tiger vs Indian gaur (bison)

 

Weight: A male Gaur can weigh between 1,500 to 2,200 kg (3,300 to 4,800 lbs) or even more, making them the largest wild cattle species.

Encounter Circumstances: Encounters between tigers and Gaur do happen occasionally in the central Indian Parks of Kanha, Pench, Tadoba, satpura, and Bandhavgarh but it is more frequent in the forests of Western Ghats like Bandipur and Nagarhole where gaur constitute the major pray base for the tigers. Tigers rely on their swiftness and intelligence to Bring down a Gaur.

Real-life Example: There are plenty of still and videos available on internet, of the Tigers bringing down Gaur in Indian Jungle. I personally have witnessed one incident in Bandhavgrah, where I was coming back from night safari in Dhamokhar. On the way back near core zone of the reserve we heard loud noise, first we thought an elephant is coming so we have taken back our vehicle but suddenly in the light of vehicle we saw a tiger jumped to the other side of the road. Still that noise was coming from the side from where tiger jumped. After a minute we saw a big bull gaur came out from the bushes. He was badly injured and in great pain, and that is why he was making sound. We left that place soon as it was not good to stop jeep in core zone in the night. This type of wildlife encounter and natural history event I never will forget.

Bengal Tiger vs. Elephant:

While tigers typically avoid adult elephants due to their immense size and power, there have been instances of tigers attempting to take down young or injured elephants. Tigers use their speed and agility to target vulnerable spots, like the trunk or hindquarters. However, elephants’ protective nature and herd behavior often make it difficult for tigers to succeed in such attempts. Tigers often encounter Asian Elephants in the forests of Himalayan Foothills & Terai, forests of North – Eastern India and forests of Western Ghats. There are patches of forests in Central India & Eastern Ghats where Elephants are found with tigers and they often crosses the path of each other. Recently a big herd of Asian Elephant has moved to Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve and settled.

 

bengal tiger fighting with elephant

 

Weight: An adult Asian Elephant can weigh anywhere from 3,000 to 6,000 kg (6,600 to 13,200 lbs) or even more.

Encounter Circumstances: There are documented evidences in the writings of James Forsyth, Jim Corbett and Dunbar Brander of such encounters. This is usually the case in the Terai forests of North India. Tigers would hurt the targeted elephant and go away and wait for the elephant to succumb to his injuries.

Real-life Example: There have been reports of tigers attempting to hunt elephants, but such encounters are exceptionally rare. There was one encounter I witnessed in the forests of Terai Arc Landscape, near Indo-Nepal border. It was the time when I was a research fellow in a project on tigers from Wildlife Institute of India. I was posted in Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary, a beautiful terai forests with great biodiversity. We stayed in Nishangara forest rest house which is inside the dense forests. Once on a summer hot and humid night I woke up in midnight by the roaring, growling and trumpeting sound. This was coming from very close but we did not had courage to go out and see what is happening. In the morning we went to check the place and we saw lots of pugmark of a big male tiger and elephants with a calf. The tiger had tried to pray upon the calf and the mother other elephant was protecting him. It was evident from the scene that after long struggle the tiger finally gave up.

Another story on the same line, there was a famous tigress of Raja Ji Tiger Reserve named Hilltop tigress, she died a tragic death. She tried to kill an elephant calf but it was a herd of elephant and she was surrounded by them and one of the elephant killed her by throwing her and then trampled.

 

Bengal Tiger vs. Leopard:

Leopards and tigers share overlapping habitats and sometimes compete for resources. These two big cat species occasionally come into conflict. Tigers are dominant and always manage to overpower leopards due to their larger size and strength. Leopards are more agile and are known to adapt by climbing trees to escape tiger attacks. However, direct confrontations between tigers and leopards are relatively rare.

 

Bengal Tiger vs Indian Leopard

 

Weight: Leopards are considerably smaller than tigers, with males weighing around 60 to 90 kg (132 to 198 lbs).

Encounter Circumstances: Encounters between tigers and leopards are typically characterized by avoidance or, at most, low-level aggression. Leopards sometimes escape by climbing trees to escape tigers.

Real-life Example: In Maharashtra’s Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve, a camera trap once captured a rare sequence of events where a female tiger chased a male leopard up a tree. The leopard managed to escape into the branches, showcasing their ability to avoid direct conflict. There are cases of tigers successfully killing leopards and eating them completely.

 

Bengal Tiger vs. Crocodile:

Tigers are strong swimmers and have been known to hunt in water. There have been instances of tigers preying on crocodiles, particularly when the crocodile is basking near the water’s edge. Tigers use their stealth and quick reflexes to surprise the crocodile and deliver a fatal blow. However, these interactions are infrequent due to the tigers’ preference for land-based prey.

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Bengal tigress machli killed the crocodile

 

Weight: Saltwater crocodiles can weigh over 1,000 kg (2,200 lbs), while smaller species like the mugger crocodile weigh around 200 to 300 kg (440 to 660 lbs).

Encounter Circumstances: Tigers are proficient swimmers and might target crocodiles near water edges when they’re vulnerable. Stealth and surprise are key in these encounters. Though they often encounter mugger crocodile in the peninsular and Himalayan foothills forests but in the mangroves of Sundarbans they come face to face with saltwater crocodile, which they really avoid.

Real-life Example: In Ranthambhore, the legendary tigress Machli once killed a Crocodile in a long drawn battle. This was a famous story and one of the naturalist has video documented the fight between Machli and 14 feet long marsh crocodile. The video went viral and a still from the video was published in several renowned wildlife and travel magazine.

In a recent video a tigress named Arrowhead has encountered a crocodile while she was crossing the lake, somehow she managed to escape from the strong jaws of the supreme predator of fresh water.

 

Bengal Tiger vs. Pack of Wild Dogs:

Wild dogs, also known as dholes, are known for their pack hunting behavior. They can be a threat to tigers, especially if they manage to corner or overwhelm a single tiger. However, tigers are powerful and solitary predators, and they often manage to fend off attacks from wild dog packs. Tigers use their size, strength, and sharp claws to defend themselves and can take down individual dogs with ease.

 

bengal tiger fighting with pack of indian wild dogs - dholes

 

Weight: Dholes, or wild dogs, weigh around 12 to 20 kg (26 to 44 lbs) on average.

Encounter Circumstances: Wild dogs are known for their pack hunting behavior and might challenge a tiger, especially if they outnumber it. Tigers use their size and strength to fend off the attacks.

Real-life Example: In a well-documented case, a tiger was observed taking on a pack of wild dogs in India’s Pench Tiger Reserve. The tiger successfully defended itself by attacking and injuring some of the dogs before they retreated. Similar type of encounter was happened in South India where a tiger fought with a pack of wild dogs and when he killed many, the pack called another pack which even after suffering a great loss by the tiger ultimately killed him.

The Bengal tiger, a symbol of power, demonstrates not only its prowess but also the complexity of coexistence. As we witness these extraordinary moments, we’re reminded that the jungle’s stage is shared, its actors bound by nature’s unwritten code. In the end, the tiger’s encounters offer a glimpse into the wondrous tapestry that makes our planet’s ecosystems thrive.

 

Bengal Tiger vs. Sloth Bear:

Sloth bear is a species of Bear endemic to Indian Subcontinent. They are big and strong, have sharp and long claws that can easily tear apart the body of any animal. Though they are omnivore but the diet preferences are totally different from tigers, they have their own niche which does not bring them into conflict with tigers but occasional encounters do happen in the forests of India & Nepal. Book tiger safari tours in India.

 

bengal tiger fight with sloth bear in indian national park

 

Weight: Sloth Bears, weigh around 50 to 150 kg (110 to 330 lbs) on average.

Encounter Circumstances: Though in jungles both of them respect each other and avoid a direct face off. But on occasion they might come face to face and in that situation they often give way to each other. Rarely conflict are also reported and even there are cases when tigers have killed sloth bear and had fed on it, but these case are very rare. Both of them know that in case of conflict they might get a serious injury so better to avoid. Having thick and long fur, sloth bears are not an easy animal to kill by neck bite for tigers but the long claws of sloth bears may cause serious injury to tigers.

Real-life Example: Recently there are videos surfaced on internet where sloth bear and tigers are fighting each other and finally both have retreated. Even in one case two tigers and a sloth bear in Ranthambore tiger reserve face off each other, bear have scared the tigers by showing his size and then ran away after making safe distance.

 

Bengal Tiger vs. Wild Boar:

Wild Boar is a species of pig widely distributed in India and other countries. They are heavy and very strong. A male wild boar can easily break the bones of any animal except elephants. They are fast multiplier and omnivore in habit. They do not make kills but often documented feeding on carcass of deer and other animals.

 

bengal tigers fight with wild boar

 

Weight: The Weight ranges of wild boar is from 90 to 136 kgs (200.0 to 300.0 lbs).

Encounter Circumstances: Wild boar is a part of pray base of tigers in all tiger habitat, and being big in size and a layer of thick fat they fulfil the energy needs of the tiger. But hunting on them is really a challenge for tiger, and if they are not careful the boar can cause them serious injury which might cost their life. They are aggressive and use their skull as a battering ram. They are known to cause more damage to human lives than any other animal in India.

Real-life Example: There are so many cases when tigers have made a kill of a wild boar also in few cases they got injured by reverse attack of boars. Few years back a tiger was killed in a fight with wild boar in Kanha-Pench wildlife corridor. There was no external injury on tiger but circumstantial evidences and post mortem has suggested that he was killed by a wild boar. Book tiger safari tour in India

 

 

Bengal Tiger vs. Porcupine:

Porcupines belongs to rodent family and have worldwide distribution. They are very common in their distributional range and may occur even near cities and villages. They are known for their long and pointed quills which is a modified hair and meant for their protection.

 

bengal tiger vs porcupine fight

 

Weight: Indian crested porcupine is a small mammal but largest rodent of Indian subcontinent, it can weigh around 11-18 kg (24 to 40 lbs)

Encounter Circumstances: Tiger often encounter porcupine and would love to go for it but the real challenge for tiger is its quills. The quills can cause a serious injury to their predators like tiger and leopard. It is covered with scales which act like fishhook barbs causing it to keep moving deeper into the tissue.

Real-life Example: An injured tiger by porcupine quills cannot hunt its natural pray and may turned to livestock or in rare cases to a man eating. Muktesar tigress which was killed by Jim Corbett had lost her eye and around fifty quills embedded in the arm and under the pad of her right foreleg in an encounter with porcupine. She turned into the man eating and ultimately got killed by Jim Corbett

 

The Bengal tiger, a symbol of power, demonstrates not only its prowess but also the complexity of coexistence. As we witness these extraordinary moments, we’re reminded that the jungle’s stage is shared, its actors bound by nature’s unwritten code. In the end, the tiger’s encounters offer a glimpse into the wondrous tapestry that makes our planet’s ecosystems thrive.

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