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Black Tigers

2023 MAY 6

Preliminary   > Environment and Ecology   >   Biodiversity   >   Species in news

Black Tigers

Why in news?

  • Recently, the death of a Rare Black Tiger was reported in the Similipal Tiger Reserve in Odisha.

More about the news:

  • Simlipal has the world's highest rate of black tiger sightings in the world.
  • The death can have a big impact on the Population of Tiger. The population of black tigers is very limited, and the death of a male tiger will affect the breeding of tigers in the region.

About Black Tigers:

  • Black Tigers are a rare colour variant of the Bengal 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.

Pseudo Melanistic:

The abnormally dark or black coat in such tigers is termed pseudo melanistic or false coloured. Melanistic refers to having very dark skin/hair due to higher-than-normal level of the pigment (substance that gives pigmentation to skin/hair is called melanin).

  • There is a high probability (about 60%) that the tiger will have the mutant gene, if randomly selected from Similipal.


Causes for Black Colour:

  • The tigers in the Similipal Tiger Reserve are an isolated population in eastern India and gene flow between them and other tiger populations is very restricted.
  • Due to Geographic Isolation, genetically related individuals have been mating with each other for many generations, leading to inbreeding.
  • This has important implications for tiger conservation as such isolated and inbred populations are prone to extinction over even short periods of time.


Consider the following statements:

1. Simlipal has the world's highest rate of black tiger sightings in the world

2. Black Tigers are one of the subspecies of Tigers

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2