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Increase in melanistic tigers in Similipal biosphere is not good news, say wildlife experts

Environmentalists say that melanistic tigers are products of genetic disorder caused by inbreeding which could, in long run, adversely impact population of normal yellow-coated royal Bengal tigers

Subhasish Mohanty Bhubaneswar Published 29.02.24, 06:52 AM
Representational image

Representational image File picture

Melanistic tigers are rare but Odisha is one of the states where they have been spotted.

However, the increase in the melanistic tigers in the Similipal biosphere, the state’s biggest tiger sanctuary, is not good news for the tiger population of the area, feel wildlife experts. Out of the 27 tigers in Similipal, 13 are melanistic.


Environmentalists say that melanistic tigers are the products of a genetic disorder caused by inbreeding which could, in the long run, adversely impact the population of the normal yellow-coated royal Bengal tigers. The morphological changes would bring about a sudden extinction of big cats in Similipal, pointed out the environmentalists.

The environmentalists and researchers have expressed their concern and termed the increase in the number of melanistic tigers as “nature’s aberration”.

Worried over it, the Odisha government has sought permission from the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) to introduce tigress from other landscapes to improve the genetic diversity of big cats in Similipal.

Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wild Life), Susanta Nanda said: “The number of melanistic tigers has increased due to inbreeding.
We have sought permission from the NTCA to introduce tigresses from other landscapes to improve the genetic

However, he ruled out the increase in melanistic tigers as a threat to the big cats.

In a melanistic tiger, the black colour is due to pseudo-melanism in which a dark-colored pigment called melanin develops in the skin. Melanistic tigers have thick black stripes placed close together, covering up most of the brown background.

Former Additional Director General (ADG) National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) Anup Kumar Nayak told The Telegraph, “God forbid Similipal doesn’t face this kind of a crisis. Otherwise, the entire tiger population of the area will be wiped out.”

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