Did you know that Tigers and a type of African Jackal Dhole have a relationship where a lone jackal will trail a tiger, eating the large cat’s kills. The dhol will also warn nearby dhols of the tiger’s presence, in exchange for also alerting tigers to nearby kills. Tigers have trained hunting dogs.
Tigers usually prefer to eat prey they have caught themselves, but are not above eating carrion in times of scarcity and may even pirate prey from other large carnivores. Although predators typically avoid one another, if a prey item is under dispute or a serious competitor is encountered, displays of aggression are a regular occurrence. If these are not sufficient, the conflicts may come turn violent and tigers may kill such formidable competitors as leopards, striped hyenas, pythons and even crocodiles on occasion. In some cases, rather than being strictly competitive, the attacks by tigers on other large carnivores seem to be predatory in nature. Situations where smaller predators, such as badgers, lynxes, and foxes are attacked, are almost certainly predatory. Interestingly, this species’ closest living relative, the lion, deals with competing predators very differently, undoubtedly because it lives in large prides. Lions do not treat other predators as prey, as do tigers, but invest a good deal of time proactively tracking down other predators and killing them, then leaving their bodies uneaten. Lions kill competitors from honey badgers to spotted hyenas and, in protected areas of Africa, are the leading cause of mortality for African wild dogs and cheetahs. The tiger does not spend as much time tracking down other predators.
Occasionally, a large crocodile may attempt to prey upon a tiger. When seized by a crocodile, a tiger will strike at the reptile’s eyes with its paws. When killing crocodiles, after stunning them about the face, tigers will flip the reptile’s body over and disembowel it through the softer belly rather try to penetrate the thick, well-armored upper hide. Eighteenth-century physician Oliver Goldsmith described the frequent conflicts between mugger crocodiles and tigers that occurred during that time. Thirsty tigers would frequently descend to the rivers to drink and on occasion were seized and killed by the muggers, though more often the tiger escaped and the reptile was disabled. Mature mugger crocodiles may target much the same prey as the tiger, including sambar and water buffalo. Occasionally, a mugger and a tiger will try to claim a carcass killed by either one, resulting in a “tug of war” at the water’s edge until one of them comes away with it. A potentially more formidable foe is the larger, more aggressive Saltwater Crocodile, which the tiger rarely encounters outside of estuarian regions of eastern India. The first confirmed case of a saltwater crocodile predating an adult tiger occurred in that region in 2011. There is a second-hand account of a tiger killing a “small” saltwater crocodile.
The considerably smaller leopard dodges competition from tigers by hunting in different times of the day and hunting different prey. In India’s Nagarhole National Park, most prey selected by leopards were from 30 to 175 kg (66 to 390 lb) against a preference for prey weighing over 176 kg (390 lb) in the tigers. The average prey weight in the two respective big cats in India was 37.6 kg (83 lb) against 91.5 kg (202 lb). With relatively abundant prey, tigers and leopards were seen to successfully coexist without competitive exclusion or interspecies dominance hierarchies that may be more common to the savanna (where the leopard may coexist with the lion). Tigers have been known to suppress wolf populations in areas where the two species coexist, mainly via competitive exclusion. There four proven records of Siberian tigers killing wolves and not eating them. Dhole packs have been observed to challenge the big cats in disputes over food and have even killed tigers in rare cases. However, tigers have also been observed killing multiple dholes at once, and dholes will typically only attack a tiger directly if the pack is quite large. Lone golden jackals expelled from their pack have been known to form commensal relationships with tigers. These solitary jackals, known as kol-bahl, will attach themselves to a particular tiger, trailing it at a safe distance to feed on the big cat’s kills. A kol-bahl will even alert a tiger to a kill with a loud pheal. Tigers have been known to tolerate these jackals: one report describes how a jackal confidently walked in and out between three tigers walking together a few feet away from each other. When in the presence of a tiger, a golden jackal pack will emit a howl very different from its normal vocalization that is thought to function as a warning to other jackals.
Other than the rare large crocodile or large dhole pack, the only serious competitors to tigers are bears. Some bears, especially the brown bear of the north, will try to steal tigers’ kills, although the tiger will sometimes defend its kill. However, in some cases, bears (especially cubs) are preyed upon by tigers. Although it hunts all its prey by ambush, tigers are especially cautious when handling bears, as many bears are capable of killing a tiger whilst defending themselves. Predation seems especially prevalent in India, where tigers may attack sloth bears. The sloth bears can be quite aggressive and will sometimes displace young tigers away from their kills or successfully defend themselves with counterattacks. Despite this, sloth bears are killed with some regularity and react fearfully to the presence of tigers or even stimuli related to them (i.e. the call of the sambar deer due to the tiger’s impersonation of it). Bears (Asiatic black bears and brown bears) make up 5–8% of the tiger’s diet in the Russian Far East. Some accounts claim black bears more successfully avoid predation by tigers because they are skilled tree-climbers, although dietary research has contrarily indicated the smaller, less aggressive black bear (comprising 4–6.5% of the tiger’s local diet) is the more common prey species than the brown bear (at 1–1.5% of the diet). Siberian tigers and brown bears usually avoid confrontation, but can sometimes be competitors, with dominance seemingly determined by the age, sex, and size of the rivals rather than species. Older and larger males of both species tend to dominate in this interspecies conflict. Some brown bears, upon emerging from hibernation, follow tigers habitually to steal their kills. Tigers will kill brown bear cubs and even adults on some occasions, especially if they find the bears in their dens during the hibernation cycle or in periods of low prey density in the fall. There are also records of brown bears killing tigers up to the size of adult males, either in self-defense or in disputes over kills. Tigers may additionally prey upon the other bear species it encounters (or had encountered historically), which includes giant pandas and sun bears, but information is very limited on such interactions