Black Tigers will no longer hold any secrets for you. You will know everything about these exciting dark-striped cats.
Let's find out without further ado!
Yes, Black Tigers do exist! What do they look like? Why do they have this color? To which subspecies of a tiger do they belong?
Let's start by answering these general questions right now.
The black tiger is a tiger with a genetic mutation. This is what gives it its black color. Most of the time, it is just the stripes that encroach the most on the animal's whole body. Cases of all-black tigers (not just the stripes) have never been proven at this time.
There have been many cases reported in the past, but we will probably never know if they were black tigers or other cat species like the black panther. We will discuss the latter later.
The genetic mutation we were talking about before is pseudo-melanism (from the Greek ''melas'' which means ''black''). It is a black coloration of animals that are usually another color. It is the opposite of albinism which has a white coloration. Melanism is present in many species of animals but not in humans, unlike albinism.
The most famous animal affected by melanism is the black panther. In the past, in the 19th century, to be precise, the word "tiger" encompassed many species of felines, including the panther. This is partly what confuses me.
Moreover, only the existence of tigers affected by pseudo-melanism would be recognized. That is to say, only those who are not entirely black. Indeed, when we speak of black tigers, we think of the latter. The existence of those affected by melanism, that is to say entirely black, has not been scientifically recognized.
These two tigers owe their color to a genetic mutation. But not the same one! For the Black Tiger, we had seen that it was pseudo-melanism or simply melanism. As for the White Tiger is about leucism (from the Greek ''leukos'' which means ''white'').
Their color is indeed not due to albinism, contrary to what many people might think, for they can have, contrary to an albino animal, black stripes, and quite clear eyes.
White Tigers are fascinating, aren't they? We could talk about them for an entire blog post (and we will soon) because there is so much to say about these majestic beasts. We even have a belted representation of them that you can see by clicking on the image below.
We now know that the black tiger exists, and we can see more clearly the cause of their black fur and the difference from the white tiger.
The black tiger is a black panther! This is what some people think. This statement had caused quite a debate in the animal science world. This has brought a lot of confusion about what precisely black panthers and tigers with melanism are.
But don't worry, we'll clear it up to point by point. You will know if the Black Tiger can be considered a black panther or not.
First of all, black panthers do not exist! The black panther is, in fact, several species of felines affected by melanism, including leopards, jaguars, and pumas. At first glance, you might think that the black panther is a separate species, but if you look closely, you can see the spots that characterize them.
You can find out more about the characteristics of the black panther on the site le mag des Animaux, a more knowledgeable place than we are about this animal.
The Felidae family includes the tiger. It is also part of the panther species like the lion (surprising, eh?) because its scientific name is Panthera Tigris.
However, it is not part of the black panther species. Among experts, the subject has been a very controversial one, but its inclusion in the black panther family is not an option. Having black fur is not a criterion. Besides, black tigers are not entirely black (at least not officially), so it could not have been possible.
Finally, let's find out together where we can find these tigers. We are sure that just like us, you dream of seeing them for real.
Many natural parks contain the majority of the remaining red tigers. The black tigers also have their reserve where they can live safe from deforestation, poaching (not always, unfortunately), reduce territories due to urbanization, increase the Indian population, etc. Let's see it in more detail.
The normal tigers being themselves quite rare (about 3900 individuals worldwide); it is, even more, the case of the black tigers. We have very little information about the parks that can host these mysterious tigers. The last time I heard, there is a natural park in India that would host them.
The Similipal reserve in Orissa in the northeast of the country would be the last known place where black tigers would be present (and belonging to the subspecies of the Bengal tiger). In 2016, of the 29 tigers recorded in the park, seven were black.
You can find out more about Similipal Park on their official website. Who knows? You might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of these felines if you go there one day.
Why does this park gather so many black tigers in one place? It is believed to be due to inbreeding. The population of tigers of the reserve being less and less numerous with the years (97 individuals in 1995) must reproduce between related tigers.
The small population of Similipal tigers and the increasing inbreeding may lead to the disappearance of the reserve's tigers in the coming years.
In addition, although they are among the most present tigers, Bengal tigers are, like all other species, threatened with extinction. Today, there are only about 2500 individuals left. You can find out more about the decline of the Bengal tiger population on the WWF website.
You will have understood; the black tiger does exist; it is not a subspecies of the tiger, as we have seen. It is a tiger affected by pseudo-melanism. As far as the existence of entirely black tigers (thus affected by melanism) is concerned, they remain superstitions and have not been scientifically recognized. Their appearance differs a lot from the pictures you have seen in this article.
After all this information, you are now an expert on the Black Tiger. These big cats will no longer have any secrets for you!
We hope you won't be too disappointed that they are not as black as the beliefs would suggest. Nevertheless, Tiger-Universe has representations of this fawn as everyone imagined it before. It is the case, for example, of this magnificent Black and White Tiger Hoodies.
Discover it now by clicking on the image below!