Tiger ~ Panthera tigris :
The magnificent Tiger, ‘Panthera tigris’, the National Animal of India, has a thick yellow coat of fur with dark stripes. The combination of grace, strength, ability and enormous power has earned the tiger its pride of place as the National Animal of India. The Indian race of this species is known as the ‘Royal Bengal Tiger’. It is found throughout the country except in the north-western region. The Sunderbans of Bengal are the main abodes for the Indian tiger. Till 1973, the Asiatic Lion (‘Panthera leo persica’) was the National Animal of India. In April 1973, after the launch of ‘Project Tiger’ it was decided to make the tiger as the National Animal. The Royal Bengal Tiger is also the national animal of Bangladesh.
In Hindu mythology, tiger is the vehicle of Goddess Durga, and her consort, Lord Shiva, wears a tiger skin. Tiger is also revered by some Tibetan Buddhist sects, particularly the Kagyu lineages. The earliest known portrayal of the Royal Bengal Tiger in India is traced to a seal belonging to the Indus Valley Civilization (3000-4000 B.C.) . The XIX Commonwealth Games 2010, held in New Delhi had ‘Shera’, a Bengal tiger, as its mascot.
On 5th October 2009, the Government of India declared the ‘Gangetic River Dolphin’ (‘Platanista Gangetica’) as India’s National Aquatic Animal. This endangered species is known by various names like ‘Hihu’, ‘Xihu’, ‘Seho’ and ‘Huh’.