White Bengal Tiger
Meet Bella (top picture) & Thor (bottom picture) at Our Zoo
Most people think white tigers are a different subspecies. Fact is neither they are different subspecies nor albinos. They are rather mutant variants of the existing subspecies. The colour is due to a recessive gene that creates the pale coloration. In addition to this another genetic characteristic makes the stripes very pale. White tigers belonging to this type are known as “pure white” or snow-white. They can breed with the normal orange tigers, although nearly half of the resulting cubs will be heterozygous (having both the genes different) for the recessive white gene, and they will be having orange fur.
White tigers as compared to orange ones tend to be larger and well built both at birth and at full adult size. Perhaps, this gives them an advantage in the wild despite their unusual coloration.
The main threats to tiger populations today are habitat loss/fragmentation and poaching. Habitat Loss and fragmentation occurs when land is modified for agricultural purposes, logging, and land conversion for grazing domestic animals. The rapidly growing human population has reduced the number of viable tiger habitats. The human population in India alone has increased by nearly 50% since 1973 with a total population in 1995 estimated to be about 931 million. Prime tiger habitats, such as forests and grasslands, are being converted for agricultural needs. Between 1980 and 1990 in Asia, about 470,000 square km (181,467 square mi) of forest were lost. It is estimated that deforestation will continue at a rate of 47,000 square km (18,147 square mi) per year.
Tigers require large interconnected tracts of suitable habitat to maintain healthy breeding populations. The conversion of land for agricultural purposes creates wide expanses of open land in which may isolate tiger populations from one another. In addition to the reduced genetic variability, fragmentation may also lead to more aggressive encounters between tigers due to the increased competition for resources and mates. Poaching is illegal killing of an animal. Tigers are poached for two main reasons: their threat or perceived threat to wildlife and/or people and monetary gain.