|Copyright: Radu Xplorator (Xplorator)
|Date Taken: 2006-08|
|Camera: Nikon CP 8800|
|Photo Version: Original Version|
|Date Submitted: 2006-10-04 4:22|
|Favorites: 1 [view]|
|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
|The White Bengals of His Highness, the Maharajah : |
A common myth surrounding white tigers is that these felines originate from the far north Russian cold, densely forested lands of Siberia and their fur color acts as natural camouflage between snow and bushes. It makes perfect sense but in reality, couldn’t be more far from the truth. All white tigers in the world today are not Siberians (Pathera tigris altaica), but descendants of an Indian wild tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) cub captured by Indian royalty in 50’s.
So, fact is, in May 1951, H.H. Shri Martand Singh (1923-1995), the maharajah of Rewa in Rajasthan, was hunting in the jungles of Bandhavgarh, central India. On the 25th a report came in that a tigress had been sighted with four cubs, one of which was white. The maharajah cruelly shot the mother dead but collected its offspring, of which only one was white, and he raised them and starting breeding them. That first white cub was the grandfather of all white tigers today and remains the most famous. His name was Mohan.
Despite his passion for hunting, Maharajah Shri Martand Singh was one of India’s foremost champions of wildlife preservationists, much in the fashion of Theodore Roosevelt, also well-seasoned traveler and sportsman. Until today, Bandhavgarh region where Mohan was captured, now a National Park founded by the very same Maharajah Martand Singh, has one of the largest tiger populations and advertises itself as: "You have to be really unlucky not to see a tiger here!". Even today at the court of Rewa, white tigers are bred carefully as an established tradition.
Mohan, the original white tiger died twenty years later and left the world the genetic legacy of all white tigers in captivity, from zoos to Siegfried & Roy in Las Vegas. Farms specialized in felines would sell white tigers for ten times the price of a red one, reaching fabulous amounts of money.
Many beliefs, false or true, surround these legendary beasts. Perhaps the most common myth is that white tigers are albinos, but without pigment they would also not have stripes, colored noses and paw pads, and lip mottling. Their skin would lack color pigment and fur would be all milky and not striped. Its slightly different but still reverse similar in effect from melanism for example, present in black panthers.
The white tiger is not a separate subspecies; it would perhaps be more accurate to call it an aberrant coloration. Because they are not a separate tiger type they are also not an 'endangered species.
A little-known fact is that white tigers do not always have ice blue eyes; they may be green or amber. Again, this requires pigment in the eyes that an albino would not have.
In the kingdom of Assam the belief existed that anyone sighting a white tiger would soon die. It's a myth that remains today.
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