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regular-article-logo Saturday, 20 April 2024

But tigers can change stripes: Odisha government set to start ‘black tiger’ safari

Similipal is the only place where these so-called 'black tigers' – which are not a distinct species or sub-species -- are found in the wild

Our Special Correspondent Bhubaneswar Published 27.01.24, 06:27 AM
A melanistic tiger at the Similipal Tiger Reserve in Odisha.

A melanistic tiger at the Similipal Tiger Reserve in Odisha. Sourced by the Telegraph

The Odisha government will soon launch a “melanistic tiger safari” near the Similipal Tiger Reserve in Mayurbhanj district.

Melanistic tigers have thick black stripes placed close together, covering up most of the brown background. Similipal is the only place where these so-called “black tigers” – which are not a distinct species or sub-species -- are found in the wild.

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Chief minister Naveen Patnaik announced the plan for the safari on his official X handle, adding: “Tourists and visitors can now have a glimpse of the rare and majestic species (sic) found only in Odisha.”

A media release from the state forest and environment department said: “This is a melanistic tiger safari – a first of its kind in the world. The safari will be established near Baripada in the district of Mayurbhanj.”

The safari will come up on a 200-hectare tract. “About 100 (hectares) will be the display area and the balance area shall be utilised for creation of veterinary care facilities including rescue centre, staff infrastructure and visitors amenities, etc,” the release said.

“The site is about 15km from the Similipal Tiger Reserve matching the same landscape…. As per last All India Tiger Estimation Report published by (the) National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) in 2018, melanistic tigers have been found in (the) wild only in Similipal Tiger Reserve.

“Surplus tigers from Nandankanan Zoo and rescued/ orphaned tigers who are not fit for (the) wild but fit for display, shall be housed in the safari in an open enclosure.”

The release said the initiative underlined “the state’s commitment to preservation and (to) showcasing its unique biodiversity”.

The proposal has received “in-principle” approval from the technical committee of the National Tiger Conservation Authority.

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