Tiger, Tiger, Burning White...
One of the most entrancing, and beautiful members of the cat species, is the Bengal Tiger, with its deep orange coat, dark stripes, and glowing eyes.
The Bengal is found primarily in India, although they may range into nearby countries such as Bhutan, or Myanmar. The tiger’s individual territory can be as large as 15-25 miles for males, or 6-15 miles for the female, who at sexual maturity, will have litters of 2-4 cubs.
Researchers estimate that one in every 10,000 wild Bengal births, is the very rare white tiger, a phenomenon that occurs only in the Bengal, and only from the mating of two tigers who carry the recessive albino gene. The offspring are referred to as chinchilla albinistic, because they are not “pure” albinos, which would have no pigment at all. The white tiger is typified by creamy fur, chocolate stripes, blue eyes and pink noses and paw pads.
The captive breeding of white tigers, has been of limited success due to the very close inbreeding that occurs. Mohan, the first captured white tiger to be bred successfully, was mated with one of his daughters by an orange tigress, in the hopes that she carried the albino gene, that when combined with her father’s, would produce white offspring. The first mating produced a litter of four white cubs. The 48 subsequent litters in their family line produced 148 cubs, 105 of which died without reproducing. Slightly more than 70% of those deaths were non-accidental/injury related.
There are less than a dozen reported sightings of white tigers in the wild, from the last century. This is not surprising considering the shrinking Bengal population, where the rare genetic combination required to make a white tiger, becomes less and less likely with the passing years.