Have you had the opportunity to witness the might and majesty of a tiger in real life? If you have, then you know the feeling of awe that one experiences when witnessing a tiger prowl with such power and grace.
But Mother Nature outdid herself when she gave birth to white and black color variants in tigers which are another sight to behold. Even kings were captivated by these creatures so much that their population took a drastic hit due to continuous trophy hunting.
When asked, tigers are genre described as creatures marked with black stripes on an orange body. However, if we try to search further, a few different kinds of tigers can be found, such as black and white tigers.
The black and white tiger, and the tiger species as a whole, are stunning creatures. The chance to witness a black and white tiger is quite rare.
The high demand from zoos and private collectors directly results from the gorgeous creature’s scarcity in the wild.
This in-depth essay will explore the history of black and white tiger conservation, the factors contributing to their rarity, and what sets these animals apart from others.
Rare Color Variations in Tiger (Black and White Tigers)
The most worldwide known tiger has an orange base with black stripes. However, tigers also have rare color variations, such as black, white, and golden bases with black stripes.
Tigers with contrasting black and white fur result from a genetic anomaly. This mutation results in either a black or white coat because of increased melanin synthesis.
Black-and-white tigers are extremely rare, with only a handful spotted in the wild. Despite their scarcity in the wild, these distinctive color variations are much sought after by breeders.
Some Famous Black and White Tigers
Mohan was a white tiger named by the Maharaja of Rewa and is known as the founding father of white tigers in India, as he successfully produced the first white cubs in captivity.
A black tiger named “Black Diamond,” which was born in 1955, was quite the center of attraction at the Greenville Zoo in South Carolina.
There are other famous tigers, like Bhim the black tiger and Mr Misty the white tiger. One of the first white tigers born in captivity, Mr Misty initially appeared in the 1950s. Black tigers were already reasonably rare when Bhim was born in the 1990s.
Physical Characteristics of Black and White Tigers
- The white tiger was first seen in West Bengal, and they are described as tigers with majestic black stripes on breathtakingly beautiful white furs.
- Whereas black tigers are one of the rarest sights. When it comes to characterizing black tigers, they are generally classified as tigers with black stripes on the black fur, but there is more to it.
- Black tigers are just a variant of an orange tiger who are usually born with numerous thick black strips which cover their initial orange.
- The initial reason why white tigers can be easily differentiated from the rest of the tigers is their white fur. Usually, a tiger is known to have an orange body, but due to lack of the orange pigment, such tigers turn out to have white fur following their unique black stripes.
- White tigers are formed due to a cause of rare genetic mutation that gives them furs that are white in color instead of orange. The only reason why white tigers are different from orange tigers is because of their rare white fur. Other than their appearance, white tigers tend to weigh more than orange tigers.
- The basic difference between a black tiger and a white tiger is its base color. While white tigers have white furs, black tigers are known to have black furs, which are created because of thick and numerous black stripes that hide the original orange color.
- Furthermore, there is no such difference between black and white tigers since they are the same species. That is why they mostly share the same shape and size.
Tigers are symbol of sustainability of India’s forests…
Sharing an interesting clip of a rare melanistic tiger marking its territory on international Tigers day.
From a Tiger Reserve poised for recovery of an isolated source population with a very unique gene pool. Kudos🙏🙏 pic.twitter.com/FiCIuO8Qj4
— Susanta Nanda (@susantananda3) July 29, 2022
The Black Tigers appear regal with their glossy Black fur and shades of golden or orange stripes spread across it.
The black color sported by these tigers is actually due to a rare mutation in the gene called Transaminase Aminopeptidase Q that is associated with the stripes on the tiger’s coat.
Because of this mutation, the black stripes spread out, covering more area, which in turn appears as if the tiger itself is black.
The White Tigers are also just as captivating to watch, with their piercing blue eyes and snowy white fur reflecting the sunlight making them even more radiant.
The dark black stripes spread across the white fur makes the fur stand out even more because of the contrast. A mutation in the tyrosinase enzyme results in decreased production of pheomelanin pigment that gives color to an orange-colored tiger.
Both the white and black tigers are found in the Indian subcontinent owing to the rich diversity of the land. Both these color variants of tigers are almost similar in size and shape to their orange-colored counterparts.
Although the White tigers tend to be a bit bigger and heavier in size compared to the normal variants, while the Black tigers tend to be smaller.
Rarity of Black and White Tigers
Both Black and White Tigers are extremely rare, with only a few hundred in existence today. The reason behind this is the mutated genes carried by them which are recessive.
Recessive genes can only act when both parents have the gene and pass it on to their offspring. This is a rare occurrence as dominant genes generally overpower them. That is why it is so rare to find Black or white tigers in nature.
Current Population of Black and White Tigers in the World
The Black Tigers are not a subspecies of tigers but just a color variant of the tiger species. They are seen exclusively in the Indian subcontinent, especially in the Simlipal National Park in Odisha.
The current population of Black tigers in Odisha is less than 28, which is a sharp drop from 45 in 2006. This decrease in their population can be explained by the extensive trophy hunting and inbreeding done to them.
The situation is even grimmer for White Tigers as there are no White tigers alive in the wild and only about 200 in captivity across the globe.
The reason for their declining population is because of the continuous inbreeding that takes place to produce more White tigers. And also, White-colored coat is a disadvantage when it comes to hunting, as these tigers are not able to camouflage properly.
Note: When it comes to tigers, the number of populations is decreasing nowadays. Furthermore, white tigers are a rare case, which is why only around 200 white tigers can be found all around the world; meanwhile, only 6 black tigers can be found.
Conservation Efforts for Black and White Tigers
In today’s world, there are only around 4500 tigers present which shows how the population of tigers has been decreasing. This becomes an even more infrequent scenario when it comes to white tigers or black tigers.
The greatest challenge faced by conservationists is to stop the rampant inbreeding done for the procurement of more White and Black tigers.
Continuous inbreeding leads to unhealthy tiger cubs with a compromised life. Currently, government authorities are collaborating with local zoos to conduct safer breeding of these tigers with sound knowledge about their genetic makeup.
There are various efforts made for the conservation of black tigers and white tigers. Some of these ways are as follows:
- Taking care and managing the number of black tigers and white rogers present in today’s world.
- Protecting the habitat of black tigers and white tigers.
- Promote various strategies that are profitable for black tigers and white tigers, specifically.
- White tigers are endangered tigers and cannot be found in the wild. Since they are not a different species, no special conservation measure is taken.
Since the number of white tigers is less, they are marked as endangered, which is why white tigers’ life is severely threatened. Therefore, no white tiger is left in the wild, and the remaining are held captive for protection.
In conclusion, white tigers and black tigers are not special species of tigers. They are only produced due to a rare genetic mutation giving them white furs or numerous thick black stripes.
Tigers’ base color is the basic reason why they are often mistaken as a different species. Therefore, a tiger with an orange base is the same as a tiger with a white or black base. However, the number of black tigers and white tigers present in today’s world is extremely low.
India has been blessed with the opportunity to house not one but all of the rare color variants seen in tigers.
Although these regal-colored tigers are a sight to behold, they have been exploited and hunted for our pleasure for way too long. It is now the responsibility we all share to provide a comfortable home for these tigers to live in.
Monty is a founder of How It See. Being a life science student in a reputed university, he always wonders about an eclectic correlation between science and nature. After engaging in various college projects, Monty determined to share all his knowledge with you as a writer. In the meantime, he loves to research and study about the various types of colorful animals.