Tigers are undisputed top predators. These big cats typically hunt at night, and can eat more than 80 pounds of meat in one sitting. In past decades, tigers have suffered from declining numbers in the wild, but things are improving for them in some places. Tiger populations in India, Nepal, Russia, Bhutan, and China are said to now be stable or increasing. In Southeast Asia, however, tigers are in crisis and facing declining numbers.
There are said to be about 3,900 tigers now living in the wild, and many more in captivity. Human beings are the tiger’s true worst enemy, with many people killing them for their bones, which are used in Chinese medicines, and for their pelts, which some make into area rugs for the wealthy. Chinese tiger bone wine is said to bring a patient the tiger’s strength, although scientific proof of this is lacking.
Apart from a gun-totting human, what can kill a tiger? Very few animals can do the deed, but here is a look at five that might kill a tiger in a forest, if they are lucky.
5. Another tiger
It may sound strange but it is true: tigers have been known to kill other tigers. A male Sumatran tiger mauled a female tiger at the London Zoo when keepers put them together in efforts to have them mate. Tiger-on-tiger attacks do not just happen in captivity, however. Tigers are solo creatures that live in a certain territory of land in the wild. They mark their space aggressively with their scent to keep rivals out. When another adult tiger invades their space, a confrontation can occur. Two male tigers will fight over a female. Sometimes this continues until one tiger dies, and the other one wins. The winner gets to father the female’s cubs.
Strangely enough, tigers living in captivity now outnumber those in the wild in the US. As the show Tiger King conveys, many tigers in captivity are mistreated, and would do better to be in the wild.
It is not often that a crocodile and a tiger cross paths. When it happens, however, it can prove to be a dangerous situation for both. Crocodiles, like tigers, can be aggressive towards each other when trying to impress a potential mate. Normally, however, most types go their own way, and leave each other alone.
To kill its prey, a crocodile clamps its large jaws down on its victim. A croc will then swallow its meal whole. Tigers, for their part, like to sneak up on their prey before pouncing. They will then apply a fatal bite to their prey in the neck, or the back of the head. When a crocodile and a tiger met in the Indian mangroves in 2011, both were ready to bite. A report by the Times of India documents how the two fought all night, and by dawn, one had won. That’s right, the crocodile got the upper hand. This was said to be the first documented case of a crocodile hunting, or at least attacking, a tiger in the Indian mangroves. It very likely could be one among many, however, as both are most active at night.
Pythons are part of the constrictor family of snakes. This means that they do not use venom to kill their prey, but rather they squeeze their victims with mighty muscles, until their prey drops dead. Pleasant. Then, they chow down.
These snakes can grow to be quite big-up to 30 feet long, weighing up to 200 lbs- and as such, they are some of the largest snakes in the world. Pythons live in a variety of environments including grasslands, woodlands, swamps, rocky outcrops, rain forests, dunes, and shrubs. These constrictors are more likely to be found in Asia, Africa, Oceania, and Australia, but they have also made inroads in the US as one of the most invasive species in the Everglades.
What do they eat? Pythons like to munch on both large and small animals. They normally feed on rodents, birds, lizards, pigs, wallabies, monkeys and even antelopes. But pythons might also attack big cats, including tigers, if the right opportunity presents itself. It could be that a tiger fighting a python in the wild would get away, or win, but it is possible that sometimes the snake can have its way.
Cobras are another snake that could kill a tiger in a forest. King cobras are found living in rain forests of India. These snakes kill with their venom. They normally prey on other snakes, lizards, eggs and small animals, and so they would not likely attack a tiger in a premeditated way, in order to eat it. These snakes normally spray venom from their fangs at larger creatures that may be attacking them. Once the venom hits their attackers eyes, others usually retreat as it stings and burns. If a tiger were to cross paths with a king cobra in such a way as to be able to bite the tiger and hang on however, their venom is strong enough to kill the cat. When a large cat is bit by a highly venomous snake, the cat often becomes excited, which in turn increases the circulation of the venom to its organs, which is bad news. Irreversible damage to the tiger’s kidneys and other organs can occur, eventually killing it.
1. Hump Nosed Pit Viper
Pit viper snakes are another highly venomous snake that could kill a tiger in a forest. These serpents live in India’s dense jungles, among other places, and just like cobras, they have venom strong enough to kill a big cat. Both the hump nosed pit viper and the Bengal tiger inhabit Southern India. Both of these species are also active at night. Like rattlesnakes, the pit viper will shake its tail when it senses someone nearby. It is a slow moving snake but it can strike quickly, and is aggressive when disturbed. The hump nosed pit viper is now considered one of the medically important venomous snakes in Sri Lanka, and the southwestern coast of India.