Baripada: A rare black tiger has been sighted at the Similipal National Park in Mayurbhanj district. The video of the black tiger has gone viral on social media. The 16-second video captured in a trap camera has been shared on Twitter. It shows a black tiger trying to climb a tree inside the Similipal wildlife sanctuary. Later it is seen to saunter off.
The video has been shared by Indian Forest Service (IFS) officer Parveen Kaswan with a caption and additional details on the rare species. Kaswan wrote, “The black tigers of India’. Do you know there are pseudo-melanistic tigers found in Similipal. They are due to genetic mutation and highly rare.”
The video has gained instant traction as Twitter users admired the rarely seen wild animal. Similarly, another IFS officer Susanta Nanda has also shared the video on his Twitter page with a caption “Tigers are symbol of sustainability of India’s forests… Sharing an interesting clip of a rare melanistic tiger marking its territory on international Tigers day. From a Tiger Reserve poised for recovery of an isolated source population with a very unique gene pool. Kudos.”
Notably, the Royal Bengal Tigers (RBTs) living in jungles scratch the tree trunks to prevent other tigers from straying into their areas. The black or pseudo-melanistic tigers – with distinctive dark stripe pattern on a light background of white or golden – are rare and have only been camera-trapped in Similipal till date and the species have been living in Similipal wildlife sanctuary for the last 30 years.
The reason behind the majestic black stripes of melanistic tigers is mutation. They are RBTs with a single base mutation in a particular gene. This mutation causes the tigers’ distinctive black stripes to enlarge and spread into the orange background. Experts are of the opinions that different mutations in this particular gene cause identical changes in the coat colour of other species of cats including cheetahs.