India has the world’s first white tiger sanctuary situated in Mukundpur, Rewa. It was launched in 2016 to protect their natural habitat. Ever wondered why are some tigers white and others black? Where all are such reserves located in India? What were the successful efforts done to conserve them?
Crux of the Matter
What’s The Story Behind This?
In India, a white tiger named Mohan was first discovered by the Maharaja of Rewa in 1951, who found it orphaned in the jungle. This Mukundpur sanctuary is also a tribute to Maharaja of Rewa, who in 1951, discovered a beautiful white tiger. He named him Mohan & encouraged breeding him to produce more white tigers. Thus, Mohan was also called the founding father of all white tigers of Rewa.
But How Are They White?
Due to Albinism. It is an inborn disease that causes a partial or complete loss of melanin, the pigment responsible for the development of skin and eye color in mammals (human beings) & animals alike.
For animal species specifically, these genetic mutations make them pinkish in appearance with white fur and pale blue eyes. Eg: Albino Zebras, Domestic Cats & Dogs, Caribou, Kangaroos, Alligators, Humpback Whales, Sea Turtles, and Rabbits.
Being The Odd One Outs
Though albino tigers may be exotic for zoo visitors, due to their lack of camouflage, they are easier targets for natural predators in the wild. Plus they can be rejected by their families and mates due to their different appearances and are treasured by poachers around the world. Thus, they tend to fare better in captivity where they can be protected from both predators and poachers.
Do Black Beauties Exist Too?
Yes, like the black panther! Opposite of albinism and derived from a Greek word “melanomorpha” (black pigment), Melanism causes an undue development of dark-colored pigment in the skin.
Abundism or Pseudo-melanism is another variant that leads to enlarged stripes or dark spots, that cover a large part of the animal’s body, making it appear melanistic.
Since they are properly camouflaged, they become fitter to survive and reproduce more in this environment. This makes them less prone to predators and more adaptive to night hunting. Eg: Black Ratsnake, Fawn, Wolf, King Penguin, Zebra, Eastern Blue Tongue Lizards, Red Fox, Seal & Squirrels.
What Are The Efforts Done To Conserve Them?
Project Tiger was started in India in 1973. It aims at tiger conservation in reserves that represent various geographical regions in the nation, in order to maintain a feasible tiger population in their natural environment.
There are 50 tiger reserves in India as of 2019, covering an area of 37,761 km2 (14,580 sq mi) and administered by NCTA (National Tiger Conservation Authority).
At the starting of the 20th century, 40,000 tigers existed but after a tiger census conducted in 1972, the existence of only 1827 tigers was revealed.
At the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) meeting of 1969 in Delhi, the threat to several wildlife species due to poaching was voiced. Thus a national ban on tiger hunting was imposed in 1970 and the Wildlife Protection Act came into force in 1972.
Worldwide Statistics: The Tigers Are Back!
This is an achievement that not only offers a future for tigers in the wild, but for the landscapes they inhabit and the communities living alongside this iconic big cat.Becci May, Manager at Asian Big Cats, WWF UK
Conservationists at WWF (World Wildlife Fund) had good news for us last month on World Tiger Day (29 July).
In India, the number of wild tigers have doubled from 2006 to 2018, estimated at 3,350 now, which is three-quarters of the world’s population. Nepal started with 121 tigers in 2009 and has 235 tigers now. Amur tiger figures in Russia have increased by 15% in the past 10 years, with 540 animals.
- The liger is a hybrid offspring of a male lion and a female tiger. The liger is often believed to represent the largest known cat in the world.
- Charismatic megafauna are large animal species with symbolic value or widespread popular appeal, and are often used by environmental activists to gain public support for environmentalist goals. Examples include the Bengal tiger, humpback whale, giant panda, bald eagle, California condor, harp seal, and penguin.
- Project Tiger is a tiger conservation programme launched in April 1973 by the Government of India during Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s tenure. As the Bengal Tiger is the national animal of India, this project aims to stem the dwindling population of the big cats and work to increase their numbers.