It was a once in a blue moon experience for photographer Soumen Bajpayee from Odisha as he was able to capture a rare black tiger on his camera. The majestic wild cat was seen in Simlipal Tiger Reserve of Odisha.
This rare animal which is available only in Odisha is believed by experts to be one of the seven or eight black tigers left in the entire world. This species of tigers are also known as the melanistic tiger as because of a gene defect, their thick black stripes with little space between them, hide the orange fur.
The 2018 Tiger Census Report stated that the population of this extremely rare wild cat had decreased drastically. However, it is worth mentioning that about 70% of the world’s black tiger population can be found in Odisha alone. Additionally, out of the total population of black tigers, most of them can be found in the Similipal Tiger Reserve in Odisha.
While speaking with leading news daily, Bajpayee said that he had no idea about melanistic tigers beforehand. When the tiger appeared suddenly from the woods, it rested for a few minutes and then languidly went back behind the cover of trees. The photographer was taken by surprise as he thought that this was a new type of tiger.
According to experts, the black stripes are a result of interbreeding and are usually smaller than the usual tigers. Additionally the first of their kind was first spotted in 1990 in India. Experts are also of the view that the reason behind the black tigers being found only in Odisha is because of the availability of a lot of forest cover and varied habitats. As a result, the tigers do not feel the need to move from place to place.
Also Read: Tigers in Northeast; Protect the Unprotected