9 Jan 2024

Rare Black Tiger Family Captured on Video in Odisha's Similipal National Park, How much Do You Know About Black Tigers?

A video showcasing a rare black tiger family in Similipal National Park, Odisha, has gained widespread attention after being shared by IFS officer Sushanta Nanda on the social media platform 'X.' The 17-second clip captures four adult black tigers, a pseudo-melanistic species distinguished by broad black stripes on their bodies due to genetic factors.

Four adult 'black tigers' are seen in the viral clip on social media. The IFS officer wrote the caption with the video, 'Nature never fails to surprise us. This is a very rare species of garden. A complete 'pseudo-melanistic' tiger family from the forests of Odisha.' 

Currently only 10 tigers of this species are left in India and in such a situation, the video of their entire family coming out is like a rare opportunity. The footage appears to be from nighttime, adding to the mystique of the encounter.

Similipal National Park is home to black tigers, although their population is sparse. Visitors often visit the park in anticipation of glimpsing these unique creatures, but sightings are infrequent. The Government of India, recognizing the dwindling numbers, reported in December that only 10 black tigers are left in the country, all residing in Similipal National Park. Conservation efforts are actively underway to safeguard this endangered species.

What is a Black Tiger? 

A black tiger is a rare colour variant of the tiger, and is not a distinct species or geographic subspecies. Black Tigers are exclusively found in India’s Simplipal Tiger Reserve. It is said to be the only place in the world where this gene of the tiger can be traced down. Similipal National Park is in the Mayurbhanj district in Odisha. The park is home to Bengal tiger, Asian elephant, Gaur, and Chausingha.

Black Tigers are just another variant or mutant of tigers that are pseudo-melanistic, characterized by wide, merged stripes. This is the result of the rare mutation in one gene, Transmembrane Aminopeptidase. 

Black tigers are due to pseudo-melanism. Pseudo-melanistic tigers have thick stripes so close together that the tawny background is barely visible between stripes. In Simlipal National Park, 37% of the tiger population has this condition, which has been linked to isolation and inbreeding.

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