Similipal’s black tigers


  • Recently the Odisha government has sought the National Tiger Conservation Authority’s (NTCA) nod to introduce some female tigers to the Similipal Tiger Reserve.
  • Odisha wants to bring in female big cats from the Central Indian landscape, which includes areas like Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra in order to improve the tigers’ gene pool and improve the sex ratio

Why Similipal’s tigers are unique?

  • The Similipal Tiger Reserve is spread across 2,750 square km in Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district.
  • It is Asia’s second largest biosphere, and the India’s only wild habitat for melanistic royal Bengal tigers.
  • The tigers of Similipal belong to a unique lineage with higher-than-normal levels of melanin and it gives them black-and-yellow-interspersed stripes on their coats.
  • These tigers are not entirely black, and are therefore more accurately described as pseudo-melanistic.

Why bring in more females?

  • Genetic analyses of other tiger populations across the India and computer simulations suggest that the Similipal black tigers may have arisen from a very small founding population of tigers, and are inbred.
  • These cats live isolated from other tigers due to which they breed among themselves.
  • Recently conducted Odisha Tiger Estimation also found that out of the total 24 adult tigers in Similipal, 13 are pseudo-melanistic.
  • Of the 24, 10 are males while 14 are females.
  • The plan to introduce more female tigers is mainly aimed at improving the gene pool.

Why bring them from central India? 

  • Since the central Indian landscape and climate match the landscape and climate of Similipal, the Odisha government wants to get female tigers from the states like Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.
  • Apart from that, some tiger reserves in Madhya Pradesh face the problem of overcrowding, leading to insufficient prey and territorial disputes.

About tiger:

  • The tiger is the largest living cat species and is a member of the genus Panthera.
  • It is most noticeable for its black stripes on orange fur with a white underside.
  • An apex predator, it primarily preys on ungulates which include animals like deer and wild boar.
  • It is territorial and generally a solitary but is a social predator, requiring large contiguous areas of habitat to support its requirements for prey and rearing of its offspring.
  • Tiger cubs usually stay with their mother for about two years and then become independent, leaving their mother’s home range to establish their own.
  • The tiger is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List.
  • Major reasons for population decline of the tiger are habitat destruction, habitat fragmentation and poaching.
  • They are also victims of human–wildlife conflict, due to encroachment in countries with a high human population density.

The post Similipal’s black tigers appeared first on Vajirao IAS.


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