Extremely Rare Melanistic Tiger Photographed in Odisha’s Nandankanan Sanctuary
Genetic mutation has given us some of the most beautiful living beings from various species. Be it yellow turtles, white lions, or black tigers – many such gorgeous marvels inhabit the earth. Recently an amateur photographer shared pictures of one of the extremely rare black tigers. Soumen Bajpayee chanced upon the rare melanistic tiger while he was bird watching last year in Odisha’s Nandankanan Sanctuary.
The melanistic tiger is a rare gene pool of the tiger, on which the black stripes are far more prominent than the Royal Bengal Tiger’s. The animal does not belong to a distinct species or geographic subspecies. Their numbers have reduced drastically and only a handful remain today. India has about six or seven melanistic tigers on its lands, and all of them reside in Odisha’s Similipal Tiger Reserve and Nandankanan Sanctuary.
27-year-old Bajpayee, who is a native of Panskura in West Bengal, was doing bird watching at Nandankanan in February last year when he saw the melanistic tiger. Initially, he didn’t even realise that he was looking at a tiger. He said,
While I was watching various birds and monkeys in the trees, I suddenly saw something which looked like a tiger but not like the usual tiger. Back then I didn’t have any idea about melanistic tigers. It suddenly appeared from the woods, stayed for few seconds and walked back into the trees. I have seen many tigers before – both in the wild and in captivity – but this was a completely different one.
Bajpayee was able to click a few pictures before the animal disappeared into the woods. These pictures have taken over social media with a storm after surfacing on Instagram.
The presence of melanistic tigers was first reported in 1993 in Similipal Tiger Reserve in Odisha, and then the animal was seen again in 2007. A few years ago, a white tigress gave birth to four cubs, one of whom was melanistic.
Dr. Bivash Pandav, a wildlife expert, and scientist at the Wildlife Institute of India, believes that there are only seven to eight black tigers left in the Indian state.