Black Tigers In Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR):
Scientists have unraveled the mystery behind Odisha’s ‘Black Tigers’ in Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR)
- The STR is the only tiger habitat in the world with melanistic tigers, which have broad black stripes running across their bodies and thicker than those seen on normal tigers.
- Black Tigers are a rare colour variant of the tiger and are not a distinct species or geographic subspecies.
- The coat colouration and patterning that make the wild cats appear dark boil down to a single mutation in the Transmembrane Aminopeptidase Q (Taqpep) gene.
- The abnormally dark or black coat in such tigers is termed pseudo melanistic or false coloured.
- If you pick any tiger from Similipal, the chance that it carries the mutant gene is almost 60%.
Factors for Occuring Black Colour:
- Due to Geographic Isolation, genetically related individuals have been mating with each other for many generations in Similipal, leading to inbreeding.
- It should be noted that this has important implications for tiger conservation as such isolated and inbred populations are prone to extinction over even short periods of time.
Similipal Tiger Reserve:
- It was formally designated a tiger reserve in 1956 and brought under Project Tiger in the year 1973. It was declared a biosphere reserve by the Government of India in June, 1994.
- It has been part of the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserve since 2009.
- It is part of the Similipal-Kuldiha-Hadgarh Elephant Reserve popularly known as Mayurbhanj Elephant Reserve, which includes 3 protected areas i.e. Similipal Tiger Reserve, Hadagarh Wildlife sanctuary and Kuldiha wildlife sanctuary.