Tiger territories

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Tigers are aggressively territorial solitary animals. Every forest has one dominant male, who controls and guards the prime area, which has the highest density of prey species. These territories vary in size and can measure up to as much as 100 square kilometers. He is constantly patroling and marking his territory to ward off any rival trying to tresspass. The tigers in the surrounding areas often try and overthrow him. In such situations, confrontations are inevitable and can sometimes result in grave injuries leading to loss of life. Tigers mark their territory is a number of ways. The primary method of doing this is by spraying urine and a fowl smelling fluid from their anal glands on trees, bushes and rocks in their area. They specially spray areas that remain protected from elements of the weather, which reduce the duration of their effectiveness. They also leave scratch marks on trees and on the ground.

"Charger", the dominant male of the past in Bandhavgarh, checks the underside of leaves for territory spray markings

This prime area can also contain many sub-territories of females, who also mark their areas similarly but not as regularly. They do however specially mark their areas when they are in estrus and ready to breed. The dominant male, although protective towards the tigresses of his territory and their cubs from rival males, remains so only until the cubs are dependant on their mother. As soon as the cubs attain adulthood, they have to move out and find territories of their own in surrounding areas. These areas too have to be sometimes fought over as they are already marked by previously driven out males or others that have been powerful enough to invade these areas but not strong enough to take over the prime area.

These territorial battles are nature's method of ensuring a healthy gene
pool in two ways. Firstly, only the most healthy and powerful male and females manage to inhabit the prime area and secondly, it ensures that the chances of in-breeding are reduced to the very minimum.

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