Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Rare Indian tigers spotted at Simlipal

Bhubaneswar, June 4 (PTI) Three rare Melanistic Indian tigers have been spotted in the Similipal National Park in Orissa's Mayurbhanj district.

Official sources said that rare black tigers were spotted at the state's only tiger reserve during the ongoing tiger census through camera-trap method. The census is being conducted by the surveyors from Wildlife Institute of India by installing cameras in 30 different locations in the core area of the 2750 sq km national park.

"The cameras captured the pictures of one female and two cubs of black colour," the sources said, adding the survey team had so far captured pictures of six tigers of whom three were black in colour.

The tigers had light brown coat with jet black stripes which is due to genetic reasons. "The sample census is being conducted only in 120 sq km area," said chief wildlife warden Suresh Mohanty. The core area inside the park is spread over 850 sq km.

While describing existence of black tigers in Similipal National Park as 'usual', Mohanty said. Noted tiger expert and former chief wildlife warden of Orissa Saroj Kumar Patnaik told PTI that the black tigers were earlier spotted way back in 1993 at Pedagarh in the park area. This apart, the black tigers were spotted for the second time in 2004 at Debasthal in the core area, Patnaik said.

Courtesy of Steve Robinson

"The photo's above are of a tiger that was killed in 1993 at the Similipal Tiger Reserve, and the story below the pictures was published in June of this year. Similipal Tiger Reserve is situated in the district of Mayurbhanj, Orissa, India. Beginning in 1975-1976 a number of sightings of black tigers have occured in Similipal Tiger Reserver. Below is an story posted October 2008:"

Black Tigers’ in Similipal Tiger Reserve

BHUBANESWAR: The State Forest Department and Dehra Dun-based Wildlife Institute of India (WII) may have a huge difference of opinion over exact number of tigers in the State, but the agencies are unanimous over presence of melanistic tigers in Similipal.

Even as the State and WII continue to be at loggerheads not only over number of big cats but enumeration methodology too, there is no such difference as far as melanistic (some call it black) tigers are concerned.

‘Wildlife Census in Orissa,’ a latest publication by the Forest and Environment Department, has confirmed the fact that tigers with colour aberration, mostly towards black, are found in Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR).

It comes to light through WII’s camera trap technology, a methodology which left the State Government ruffled when the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and Dehra Dun-based institute released results of tiger census earlier this year. Interestingly, the publication puts the number of tigers at 132 in habitats across the State. The figure for Similipal is 69 (excluding cubs) as per the pugmark tracking method.

This almost is a climb-down from the higher figure of 94 that the Department had been dishing out for past several years, after it met with serious posers from camera trap technique used by WII-NTCA which led to a drop in the number. The controversial WII census had put tiger number at 45 in the entire State, and 20 in Similipal.

However, there is no such controversy over presence of the melanistic tigers though. The Forest Department publication, while terming the analysis of the camera trap as unclear, says that the method needs to be tested in different habitats.

But it presents pictures of the census showing the ‘black’ coloured tigers in STR. ‘‘It substantiates the postulation made on the basis of research carried out in STR on colour aberration in tiger in the research work Born Black: The Melanistic Tiger in India,’’ the report says.


It is claimed at in addition to being photographed, the tiger killed in 1993 was also video taped. I have never seen a video tape of a melanistic tiger, dead or alive. But look at this interesting clip that I found of Siberian Tigers in China. Pay particular attention at 1:45 to 1:50. Pause it, and tell us what you see. It is amazing, and makes me catch my breath.


Anonymous said...

Isn't it amazing - looks like 2 black or almost black tigers, and not a mention of them by the commentator. Could you imagine what a sensation black tigers wuld be? - See Ya champagne lions!

Wade G. Burck said...

It is beyond amazing. I have looked at the clip a thousand times in the past year. I do not know why there was no mention of them, or why more hasn't been written about them, if they are in fact black tigers. I keep thinking maybe they are young one's who got terribly dirty, and that is why no mention, as they are not actually black. Possibly something happened to them, either death naturally or illegally. Maybe, just maybe, they have been moved to a safe place, and they are waiting for the right time to revel what they have. I just don't know. I can only hope they don't suffer the same fate as White Tigers and champagne lions, that of a spectacle. I would much prefer they remain an animal of honor, like Snowflake.

Anonymous said...

Well it sure is a mystery. I played it frame by frame and there's no chance of it being shadows. Also, how would they have gotten that dirty in the snow? Still, in none of the limited information I found on melanistic tigers does it mention anything other than Bengals. You should show that clip to other tiger people and see what they think.

Wade G. Burck said...

The oddest thing is that there are two. They are obviously younger then the other tigers in the picture. They are also "romping" up in front of the others, suggesting immaturity. The one on the right at the end of the segment doesn't appear as "black" as the one on the left(stripes on it's tail are briefly visible.) As there is snow and the snow has thawed, it would leave a lot of boggy, slough type places, given the black substrate the area is known for. Something two immature cubs would find irresistible, and would possibly have rolled, wrestled, and romped in it. I don't know, just trying to eliminate the possibilities with a devils advocate attitude given that the most troubling thing to me is that there are two of them, and not one. I can't even imagine at the astronomical chances of that occuring.

Anonymous said...

wow I almost fel out of my chair when these two amazing black cubs came on screen, but i whas wondering, did you rule out the possibly reason of a genetic problem due to inbreeding. They talk about that to in the clip.


Wade G. Burck said...

Who know's???? I just don't think any of this is possible without hearing something about it.

Dr.VJ said...