Why is it in the news?
- The Odisha government has announced the establishment of the world’s first melanistic tiger safari near Baripada, aiming to showcase and conserve the rare black Bengal tigers found exclusively in the Similipal Tiger Reserve.
About Melanistic Tigers
- Black tigers, also known as Melanistic Royal Bengal Tigers, are a rare colour variant of the Bengal tiger.
- They are not considered a distinct species or geographic subspecies but represent a colour variation within the Bengal tiger population.
- Melanistic tigers have been recorded exclusively in the Similipal Tiger Reserve in Odisha.
- In the 2022 All India Tiger Estimation, conducted in the Similipal Tiger Reserve, a total of 10 melanistic tigers were reported out of the 16 tigers present in the reserve.
- Its International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Status is endangered.
- The melanistic tigers, like other Bengal tigers, face significant threats to their population due to habitat loss, poaching, and other human-induced factors.