It's Not Everyday You Get To See Black Tiger Family Roaming In The Wild
It's Not Everyday You Get To See Black Tiger Family Roaming In The Wild
The use of camera traps plays a crucial role in monitoring wildlife populations and behaviours.

In Odisha’s Simlipal, a hidden treasure of nature recently emerged. Susanta Nanda, an Indian Forest Service (IFS) officer known for his avid documentation of wildlife wonders, took to X (formerly Twitter) to unveil a video featuring pseudo-melanistic tigers, a rare colour variant that has become synonymous with the region.

The captivating video shared on a Sunday, showcases a complete pseudo-melanistic tiger family through the lens of a camera trap. These elusive creatures, often referred to as black tigers, possess a rare gene pool, giving rise to a distinct coat colouration where the black stripes are notably more prominent than those of the Royal Bengal Tiger.

In his tweet, Nanda expressed the awe-inspiring nature of the find, stating, “Nature never fails to surprise us. This is one of the rarest of the rare… A complete Pseudo-melanistic tiger family from the forests of Odisha.”

The use of camera traps, as demonstrated in this footage, plays a crucial role in monitoring and understanding wildlife populations and behaviours. Described by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) as digital cameras linked to infrared sensors, these traps can detect moving objects, allowing researchers to collect essential data about wildlife, including habitat, population size and interspecies interactions.

Internet users flooded the comments section with expressions of awe and appreciation. A user remarked, “Wow! Nature’s splendor! The babies bubble with bliss and happiness in paradise. Thanks for sharing Odisha’s own treasure.”

Another simply stated, “Amazing. Nature at its best!”

“Wow! This is unbelievable! How cool! I can’t believe my eyes!” wrote a wildlife enthusiast.

The uniqueness of pseudo-melanistic tigers lies in their coat colouration, a result of a single mutation in the Transmembrane Aminopeptidase Q (Taqpep) gene. The term pseudo-melanistic or false-coloured is aptly used to describe the abnormally dark or black coat of these tigers. Melanistic, in this context, refers to having very dark skin/hair due to a higher-than-normal level of the pigment melanin.

Studies suggest that there is a high probability (approximately 60%) of a tiger in Simlipal possessing the mutant gene responsible for pseudo-melanistic colouration. The Simlipal Tiger Reserve hosts an isolated population in eastern India, with limited gene flow between them and other tiger populations. The consequence of this isolation is inbreeding, where genetically related individuals have been mating for generations, posing a threat to the population’s survival.

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