Tigers (Panthera tigris) are mammals of the Felidae family, one of four "big cats" in the Panthera genus, and native to the mainland of southeastern Asia. They are apex predators and the largest feline species in the world, comparable in size to the biggest fossil felids.The Bengal Tiger is the most common subspecies of tiger, constituting approximately 80% of the entire tiger population, and is found in India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, and Nepal. An endangered species, the majority of the world's tigers now live in captivity. ****************Most tigers have orange coats, a fair (whitish) medial and ventral area and stripes that vary from brown or hay to pure black. The form and density of stripes differs between subspecies, but most tigers have in excess of 100 stripes. The pattern of stripes is unique to each animal, and thus could potentially be used to identify individuals, much in the same way as fingerprints are used to identify people. This is not, however, a preferred method of identification, due to the difficulty of recording the stripe pattern of a wild tiger. It seems likely that the function of stripes is camouflage, serving to hide these animals from their prey. The stripe pattern is found on a tiger's skin and if shaved, its distinctive camouflage pattern would be preserved.***********************Like most cats, tigers are believed to have some degree of colour vision. There is a well-known mutation that produces the white tiger, an animal which is rare in the wild, but widely bred in zoos due to its popularity. The white tiger is not a separate sub-species, but only a colour variation. There are also unconfirmed reports of a "blue" or slate-coloured tiger, and largely or totally black tigers, and these are assumed, if real, to be intermittent mutations rather than distinct species. Similar to the lion, the tiger has the ability to roar. ******************Most tigers live in forests or grasslands, for which their camouflage is ideally suited, and where it is easy to hunt prey that are faster or more agile. Among the big cats, only the tiger and jaguar are strong swimmers; tigers are often found bathing in ponds, lakes, and rivers and are known to kill while swimming. Tigers hunt alone and eat primarily medium to large sized herbivores. Examples of locally important prey items include sambar deer, wild pigs, gaur, water buffalo and domestic cattle. Like many predators, they are opportunistic and have shown the capability to eat much smaller prey such as as langurs, peacocks and hares. They also may kill such formidable predators as sloth bear, canids, leopards, crocodiles and pythons as prey. Old and injured tigers have been known to attack humans or domestic cattle and are then termed as man-eaters or cattle-lifters which often leads to them being captured, shot or poisoned. The Sundarbans mangrove swamps of Bengal, where some healthy tigers have been known to hunt humans, have had a higher incidence of man-eaters.*************************Adult elephants are too dangerous to tigers to serve as common prey, but conflicts between elephants and tigers do sometimes take place. Tigers often ambush their prey as other cats do, overpowering their prey from any angle, using their body size and strength to knock prey off balance. Even with their great masses, tigers can reach speeds of about 60 km/h (37 mph). The tiger uses its muscled forelimbs to hold onto the prey, bringing it to the ground. Once the prey is prone, the tiger bites the back of the neck, often breaking the prey's spinal cord, piercing the windpipe, or severing the jugular vein or carotid artery. Tigers prefer to bite the throats of large prey. The tiger remains latched onto the neck until its prey dies. In the wild, tigers can leap as high as 5 m (16 ft) and as far as 9-10 m (30-33 ft), making them one of the highest-jumping mammals (just slightly behind cougars in jumping ability). They have been reported to carry domestic livestock weighing 50 kg (110 lb) while easily jumping over fences 2 m (6 ft 6 in) high. Their heavily muscled forelimbs are used to hold tightly onto the prey and to avoid being dislodged, especially by large prey such as gaurs. Gaurs and water buffalo weighing over a tonne have been killed by tigers weighing about a sixth as much. A single blow from a tiger's paw can kill a full-grown dog or human, or can incapacitate a 150 kg (330 lb) Sambar deer.****************Humans are the tiger's most significant predator, as tigers are often poached illegally for their fur. Many Indian tigers' parts find their way to China through Tibet, where it is widely used for making traditional costumes. At the Kalachakra Tibetan Buddhist festival in south India in January 2006 the Dalai Lama preached a ruling against using, selling, or buying wild animals, their products, or derivatives. The result when Tibetan pilgrims returned to Tibet afterwards was much destruction by Tibetans of their wild animal skins including tiger and leopard skins used as ornamental garments. It has yet to be seen whether this will result in a long-term slump in the demand for poached tiger and leopard skins.***********Their bones and nearly all body parts are used in traditional Chinese medicine for a range of purported uses including pain killers and aphrodisiacs. The use of tiger parts in pharmaceutical drugs in China is already banned. China has even made some offenses in connection with Tiger poaching punishable by death. Poaching for fur and destruction of habitat have greatly reduced tiger populations in the wild. A century ago, it is estimated there were over 100,000 tigers in the world; now numbers are down to below 2,500 mature breeding individuals, with no subpopulation containing more than 250 mature breeding individuals.