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Tigers are social animals?

United States paul cooper Offline
Regular Member
( This post was last modified: 08-05-2018, 01:09 PM by Ngala )

So tigers are social animals or what?

"b) Influence of sociality on stereotype.
Our study shows that tigers managed in social conditions stereotyped lower than those managed in solitary condition. [81] and [54] also reported that social interaction results in the reduction or absence of pacing. However, this is intriguing, as several species of felids are solitary living with vast territories in the wild [82], and considering the territorial behaviour of tigers, especially of males, in their natural habitats. [68] explained this contradiction citing the composition of a large group of seven individuals by [83], who stated that "the presumed territoriality system of male tigers appears to be less rigid than that, for example, of many antelopes and birds' and "it is possible that territorial behaviour may be modified under certain environmental conditions such as shortage of water or cover"(This is confusing because in 1957 which is [83] the only thing i heard of is powell describing 5 tigers and a tigress sharing a small area.. actually that is obviously a tiger family, there are all coincidences) Further, [68] stated that female in oestrus may travel widely and is sometime followed by several males (How is this has to do with sociality? Tigers will fight for the female no?). Studies across a number of other species have also demonstrated social isolation to be associated with high levels of stereotypic behaviour and chronic stress [8487]. On the other hand, [88] state that felid species, which are generally solitary in the wild, are in pairs or trios in zoos due to constraints of space and as a result, although arguably a source of social enrichment, can also be a source of chronic stress [3] and can affect reproduction too [8990]. However, the present study shows that keeping the tigers in sociality might positively influence their welfare in captivity."

Now the researchers are dumb for quoting and saying that about the territoriality system of the tiger, because they took it out of context..
"The territories of some mammals are so large that they cannot be surveyed readily by the owner, as Leyhausen has pointed out, and this seems to be the particularly true in the case of the tiger. Strangers cannot, therefore, be prevented from entering the area, because a defense of all boundaries is impossible except by such indirect means as marking with scent. As a result, the presumed territorial system of male tigers.." The deer and the tiger
Schaller goes about explaining obvious coincidences, and obviously there is a lot they didnt know back then.. is that the tiger territory was 2x bigger etc and it seems like some things werent explainable back then, but now it seems like more is known about. But still interesting.

I want to see your explanations..
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Netherlands peter Offline
Expert & Researcher
( This post was last modified: 01-27-2018, 05:49 AM by peter )


a - Captive big cats

- A few weeks ago there was an attempt at a debate on lions and tigers. A kind of comparison, one could say. As Stealthcat was involved, it ended with a few remarks on the possible outcome of a bout between males of similar size and age. In the wild, I slightly favour stripes. The main reason is more selection at the level of individuals. That and more experience in hunting and coping with stress. In captive animals, and zoos in particular, lions could have the edge. The main reason is that captive lions, usually living in small groups, keep their identity because they can interact with each other. Based on what I saw and heard, the margins would be small. Just an opinion, of course.

One could also conclude that it largely is about the development at the level of individuals and be close. The moment a cat no longer develops, it will collapse in all departments meaning it will become a parody on a lion or a tiger. In zoos in particular, big cats often get bored to death. One result is stereotype behavior.    

- Apart from the exchange with Stealthcat, there was an exchange in the thread 'A Gallery Of Captivity'. It started with a post in which a horse attacked by a lioness and a tiger in a Chinese circus featured. The horse had a scare, but survived. The circus didn't. I posted about the cats I saw in zoos, rescue facilities and circuses and I saw a few. 

To keep it short. Compared to big cats living in zoos and, to a lesser extent, rescue facilities, circus big cats (referring to European circuses only) were very healthy in most departments. The main reason is interaction with other animals and humans. Interaction nearly always results in development in the social skills department. If we add regular activity and bonding of some kind, chances are you will see a lot of healthy cats. 

The ban on exotic animals in circuses in particular resulted in countless unnamed victims and a great loss of knowledge. It will also no doubt result in countless big cats with 'silly walks' soon.

b - Wild big cats

Rumour has it that lions are the only social cats. Not true. Nearly all 'solitary' cats have a social life of some kind. We don't know about it, because of a lack of knowledge.

Remember the information about a tigress with four cubs followed by an enormous male brown bear in Russia? Wolverine posted about it in the tiger extinction thread some months ago. The bear stalked her in order to confiscate her kills. Rangers knew and considered hunting the bear, as there was no need for him to stalk the tigress for so long. Before they acted, tigress 'Rashel' did. They heard her complain. At least, that's what they thought. They had never heard the sound she made before. Within days, a male tiger appeared. In the video Wolverine posted, you can see him and the tigress. He was definitely reassuring her. The bear got wind of the changing tide and decided to move. Could have been a result of the hunting season, but my guess is there were other reasons. 

You no doubt heard about 'National Geographic Wild'. January is big cat month. I saw a number of interesting documentaries. In January, the BBC broadcasted a new series: 'Big Cats'. In the series, a puma biologist featured. He said he lived and breathed pumas. Even dreamt about them. The camera traps revealed something he didn't know: adult female pumas interacting with each other for prolonged periods of time. They even shared kills. Male pumas, often portrayed as harsh cub killers, often visited females. When they approached the kill of a female or a gathering of females, they kept a low profile. Very low, I would add. No aggression whatsoever.  

In another documentary, a biologist interested in interaction between wolves and pumas found that the conclusion of others on the way both species interacted was only true to an extent. In some regions, pumas often are displaced by wolves. For this reason, they, when possible, move to regions where large packs have no business. These regions also had wolves, but most packs were smallish. Not a few adult wolves hunted on their own. When they met pumas near kill sites, they often had to withdraw. A solitary wolf is no match for a solitary puma. Both know. Problem solved.  

Tigers are solitary cats, but they often visit females with cubs. When a female with young cubs is killed, they're the first to know. Not seldom, they take care of the cubs. Some hunters in the past reported about it, but they were not taken serious. Same for many other interesting observations. Billy Arjan Singh wrote about a tigress he had raised. She had been born in captivity. After some time, she returned to the wild. Impossible, many said. But it happened. As she had no degree in hunting, a big old male tiger took care of her. He killed for her and treated her with great respect. After a few years, she graduated and mated with a vigorous young adult male who had been around for quite some time. She had cubs before she was accused of a crime.

A young adult male and a big old male tiger in the same district and both interacting with a young tigress? But adult male tigers are fiercely territorial, are they not? Yes, they most definitely are. But how about all these fights with fatal consequences in many Indian reserves?

Every situation is different. In order to get to understanding, you need to get close and stay there. For many, many years. And when you think know a few things and use them to get to generalisations, you will often be proven wrong. Life isn't about models, standardizations and predictions. It's individuality all the way all the time. Furthermore, there are conditions. Finally, there is change. 

Male tigers are very territorial, but not when nearly all prey animals leave their ranch as a result of crop failures. A century ago, male Amur tigers often followed wild boars moving north. They had no other option. 

c - To conclude

What I'm saying is we know next to nothing about tigers. Or other big cats. There's always exceptions, like Packer, Miquelle and U. Karanth, but you can't study wild tigers for some time, graduate and say you really know about tigers. Every article I read is interesting, but knowledge, no matter how detailed, about one part of reality can't be extrapolated. A century ago, hunters noticed that the situation in one district was very different from another. Reality is an unknown entity that changes all the time.  

Research is one way to get to knowledge, but there are others. One could decide to talk to locals, one could decide to read books written a long time ago and one could decide to combine different methods to get to knowledge. In the end, knowledge has many faces. 

I read many books written a long time ago. Nearly every book has something of interest. My advice is to select books written by those who lived and breathed tigers. They hunted them, but didn't shoot at everything that moved. Don't go for books written by hunters out for a trophy only.
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United States paul cooper Offline
Regular Member

Interesting read. I did too notice that male tigers are constantly seen with their females and cubs, thapar also came to the conclusion that the male tiger does help contribute to raising offspring. I read cases on other threads where male tigers give food to their cubs and such.

 A male tigers territory over laps females, right? I know female tigers usually establish close to their mothers, and tend to be very familiar with each other. I read in a book where it says the relatedness between female tigers in a male tigers territory, is the same between lionesses in a pride. I thought its interesting how its very similar to a lions pride, except lions are just in groups (and also form coalitions). 

Me and stealthcat have a few questions for you.. sorry if it intervenes with any rules on here, just delete them if they do:

- What are the differences between the lions and tigers muscularity in the forearms (elbow to paw)?

- Differences between lion and tiger skulls? Such as weight and robusticity?

(Might be inappropriate):
- Marcel Peters, where did you find out that he favors the lion in a fight?

- You said your father saw fights between lions and tigers. Who was the winner in the fights?

(Oh, and do you have the message with genghis insulting you still? That would be gold if you can foward it to me privately lol)
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Netherlands peter Offline
Expert & Researcher
( This post was last modified: 08-02-2018, 01:51 PM by peter )

Measurements of captive tigers and lions 

Here's a few measurements of 3 captive male lions in a Dutch facility. All males, although old, were in good condition and well-built:

*This image is copyright of its original author

For comparison, here's information on 5 captive Amur tigers. Same facility, same person measuring and same method. Tiger 'Amur' was flown to China later. At Schiphol Airport, he was weighed. As it is about money and the distinction between cage and content, the scales are reliable. The man who transported him witnessed the proceedings. Tiger 'Amur' was 211 kg. (466 pounds). His weight is not in the table:

*This image is copyright of its original author

The tigers were from France. Circus tigers, they were. One of them, a male, escaped during a show. There was no panic, as he was quickly surrounded by staff. The trainer guided him back to the cage. When entering the cage, he fell. The tiger, undoubtedly as a result of stress, instinctively attacked and bit once. The trainer was killed immediately and the tiger was shot. 

The 7 remaining tigers, now without a job, were neglected for nearly two months. When they arrived in Nijeberkoop, they were not fit. A few months later, I measured and weighed them. That is to say, I wanted to weigh them. Tiger 'Arames' was no problem, but 'Igor' woke up during the attempt. As it was out in the open, we decided against a new attempt. Not a bad decision, as he was in a foul mood that day. So much so that all visitors, in spite of the bars, quickly disappeared when he told us what he thought about the place. Never saw so much aggression in a big cat again.  

Differences between captive male lions and tigers

The tables say that the male lions had bigger skulls and chests. The male tigers had longer bodies and longer, as well as bigger, legs. Tiger 'Amur' was clearly larger and heavier than lion 'Macho'. The difference between the other males was limited (within 20-30 pounds). 

In spite of his weight, tiger 'Amur' was very agile, whereas lion 'Macho' wasn't. I was standing right behind 'Amur' when 'Macho' told him to stay away from his woman (a tigress!). Tiger 'Amur' didn't agree and 'Macho' came like a freight train. Before he had reached the bars (less than a second away), tiger 'Amur' was on his hindlegs. I still remember how well and efficient he moved. Saw it from a few feet. When 'Macho' had reached the bars, 'Amur' struck. The two blows were so hard, that everyone thought he would break them. Without a sound, 'Macho' rolled over in submission.           

The outcome of the (virtual, as bars) interaction was predictable because of the difference in size (fights between big cats, all other factors equal, are decided by size and individuality), but the way both acted was typical (I saw many more) for both species: when they're angry, male lions prefer the freight train act, whereas tigers do the Muhammed Ali thing. 

Captive male lions like fighting and are very serious about it. They come with everything they have and will destroy the opponent here and now and then some. Before they come, they'll let you know. They fight to eliminate competition, to get the best opportunities and to rule. When fighting other male lions, it's about winning, no matter what. When fighting other species, they go for the kill. Although it may seem different, it isn't personal in most cases. It's about the rankings.  

Captive male tigers also like to fight, but have a different goal and approach a fight in a different way. Although they too fight for dominance at times, most serious fights are personal. Unlike male lions, tigers do vendettas. Anything is allowed. This means that planning comes in. Lions plan to do a take-over. Tigers plan to kill. As they, unlike most male lions, keep their feelings to themselves, trainers doing tigers often are left guessing. This is why many trainers consider tigers as sly and sneaky. 

Male lions enjoy strength tests, but tigers avoid wasting their energy. When male lions engage, a trainer often can see it coming. Male tigers, on the other hand, often seem to come out of nowhere. Lions like to overpower their opponent. This is why they like freight trains. Tigers don't care about overpowering. Their care about a decisive advantage. This is why they move in a different way. At times, fighting tigers seem like two dancers or two fighters. Both are trying to find a gap in the defence of the other.         

My brother, a very good fighter, said they were unsurpassed at it. In spite of that, he favoured the lion because of the over my dead body attitude and the way they present themselves. 

We once entered a kind of theatre in Hamburg. It had four male lions and all of them were roaring because one of the females was in heat. I could have sworn they were talking to him. There was most definitely a connection. I've seen it every time he was close to male lions.  


All wild tigers are professional hunters. They nearly always hunt on their own. Large animals, if possible. In order to do that all their life, they need to avoid risk. In a fight, you can take risks. When hunting, you don't.

In the end, it is about getting the intended victim down as quickly as possible and finish the job. Although some methods are preferred, they have different ways of doing it. Once they made contact, they try to keep the victim as close as possible in order to avoid injuries. When they have the grip needed, they use their paws and fore-arms to restrain the victim. The big fore-arms are a result of gripping, pulling and restraining, not dragging.

Tigers can grow to a very large size, but they don't need a heavy frame. Anything but that. If conditions change, tigers need to be able to quickly adapt. The best way to get there, is muscle. Not bones. Changing a bone takes time. Tigers don't have time. Speed is the crucial word. 

Wild male lions also hunt, but they often do it in a team. For them, heavyweights, it is about restraining a large animal, enabling the others to go for the soft spot. They're built to withstand significant stress for quite some time. A stocky body with relatively large bones helps. Same for a long and reinforced 'snout'. My guess is that lions could have a (relatively) heavier frame (skeleton) than tigers. The reason is they need it.  

Is all of this visible in captive big cats? Yes. Captive lions often are shorter and stockier than captive tigers. Tigers are longer, limbier and more athletic. The big fore-arm, even in captive tigers, often stands out. In similar-sized males, the difference in this respect ranges between 10-20%. Have another look at the tables and compare the lions with Amur tigress 'Volga'. Although only 136 kg., her fore-arms almost compare with those of the male lions.  

The view of a sailor

My father was a sailor for a long time. He saw the world, that is. In those days, smart people organized fights between dangerous 'wild' animals in cities visited by sailors, especially in Asia (India and Indonesia). The aim always was bets and money. In order to affect the outcome of fights, drugs were often used. What he saw, was a result of that. He knew.

Tony Hughes

When I asked them about interactions between captive big cats, trainers were wary. Tony Hughes wasn't, because he wasn't a trainer. That is to say, he wasn't a performer. Tony assisted well-known trainers. He trained the cats and intervened when things got out of hand during a training session or show. He has a reputation in this respect, because he, like a male lion, is fearless and bold. One of the Chipperfields is alive because of Tony. 

For this reason, Tony saw a lot more than most trainers. The interview lasted for two days and it was honest all the way. In his experience, and he has lots of that, a serious fight between two similar-sized animals (cat or bear) is close to unpredictable. Individuality was more important than anything else. Although tigers and lions have different attitudes and use different techniques, there's no such thing as species-related skill in a serious fight. Not to the liking of most posters, but there you have it.  


When interested in skulls, visit skull threads. One of our mods (Grizzly) in heavily involved in skulls, claws and bones. The tiger thread also has good info in this department. Based on the skulls I measured, I'd say that lions have relatively longer skulls than tigers. Tiger skulls, are relatively wider at the arches. They also have longer canines and a relatively wider rostrum.

Captive Amur tigers have longer skulls than captive Indian tigers, but those of Indian tigers are relatively more robust. Tiger skulls are big gun platforms. Everything not contributing in that respect has been removed. Lions deal with stress. For this reason, the os frontalis (the bone on top of the skull) often is wider and more robust in lions. But I saw photographs of very robust skulls of wild Amur tigers. What do we really know?
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