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Melanistic tigers

Facts for Prelims (FFP)


Source: PIB

 Context: Melanistic tigers are found exclusively in the Similipal Tiger Reserve in Odisha. STR harbours the only population of melanistic tigers in the world (10 out of 16 tigers in the park are melanistic)

The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) issued a Standard Operating Procedure to safeguard these tigers, with Similipal identified as a distinct genetic cluster for conservation.

Funding under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats supports various conservation efforts in Similipal, including awareness programs, habitat management, protection, and infrastructure development.

About Melanistic tigers (black tigers)

They are a rare colour variant of the Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris). Unlike the typical orange coat with dark stripes, melanistic tigers have a dark black or nearly black coat with faint or almost invisible stripes. This dark colouration is due to a genetic condition known as melanism, where there is an excessive development of dark pigmentation (melanin) in the skin and fur. Melanistic tigers are not a separate subspecies but rather a colour morph within the Bengal tiger population. A single mutation in the gene Transmembrane Aminopeptidase Q (Taqpep) causes the black tigers to develop broadened stripes.


About STR

Simlipal Tiger Reserve, situated in the Eastern Ghats, is a UNESCO-listed Biosphere Reserve, National Park, and Tiger Reserve. Positioned within the Mahanadian coastal region and the Chhotanagpur biotic province, it spans diverse biogeographical realms. Comprising the Mayurbhanj Elephant Reserve, which includes Similipal Tiger Reserve, Hadgarh, and Kuldiha Wildlife Sanctuary, Simlipal boasts varied vegetation, encompassing moist and dry deciduous forests and grasslands.