Saturday, October 4, 2008

Tigers preying upon Rhinos in Indian National Park

Whilst macropredation is a well documented phenomenon in lions, it is not an entirely unheard of occurrence in case of tigers either. Tigers in India have been known, historically, to take on full grown elephants and buffalos at occasions. So the news that tigers are preying upon rhinos in Kaziranga National Park in India, though disturbing, is not entirely out of the blue. Most of the animals taken are calves, that stray away from their mothers, indicating that adult rhinos are still too difficult a proposition for an individual tiger.

Despite this troubling news, there is evidence that rhino population in the park is thriving. Successive censuses have shown a steady increase in the number of unihorn rhinos living within the reserve's confines. Therefore tigers are not taking too heavy a toll on the rhino numbers in the park. This may indicate that there is still sufficient natural prey available for the big cats and the predation upon rhino calves is purely opportunistic. Still more research is needed to better understand and explore this unique instance of predator-prey relationship in large land mammals. 

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Black Cat said...

That's very interesting. I wonder if tigers have always preyed on large animals or if it's a fairly recent thing, perhaps due to a shift in numbers of smaller animals or something. I can sort of understand it with lions, who often hunt together, but I think that's unusual for tigers except, perhaps, for mothers teaching big cubs how to hunt!

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