If one were to go by Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book, the tiger would come across as a scheming, jealous, arrogant character cast as the villain of the piece. Across versions and adaptations, Shere Khan, as Kipling named the character, continued to be portrayed as the evil animal who repeatedly tries to kill Mowgli.
In fact, in the 2018 live-action film Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle, Shere Khan, portrayed in motion-capture and voice-over by Benedict Cumberbatch, comes across as more sinister and focused on killing Mowgli than in all previous versions.
Royal Bengal tiger | Binomial name: Panthera tigris tigris
In reality, the critical role of the tiger in the forest ecosystem is finally being understood and acknowledged. In India, the tiger continues to be biggest draw for wildlife lovers from across the world. Home to 80% of the world’s tigers, India now has 53 tiger reserves, with more areas in the process of being accorded similar status. Large scale efforts continue to be taken to protect the tiger from poaching as well as unfortunate outcomes of human-tiger conflict. As of 2018, the number of tigers recorded in India stood at 2,967. The battle to save the tiger continues.
Conservation Status: Endangered (IUCN 3.1)
Kingdom: Animalia | Class: Mammalia | Order: Carnivora | Family: Felidae