Pseudo-melanistic Bengal tiger inspects scent marking on a tree
The Indian ranger, Susanta Nanda, in his tweet describes this tiger, captured in a camera trap video, as melanistic. I think, in fact, that the tiger is better described as being pseudo-melanistic. This is because the stripes are still visible against the background but the stripes are much thicker and therefore much closer together which prevents the tawny background being visible. True melanistic big cats are completely charcoal black with ghost markings.
So-called black tigers are in fact pseudo-melanistic tigers. Sarah Hartwell, an expert in this field, tells us that they are getting more common which may be due to inbreeding caused by habitat reduction. This must mean that the genetic mutation causing pseudo-melanism is recessive and therefore hidden under normal circumstances.
India’s Bengal tigers are being squeezed into smaller areas despite a network of reserves in that country because of an increased human population year-on-year. Arguably, some of the reserves are too small in any case as they can’t truly accommodate anything other than a small number of tigers as tigers require very large home ranges.
Therefore, there is a limited choice of mates which promotes inbreeding and according to Sarah Hartwell “the perpetuation of anomalous patterns or colours”. Apparently, there are also some true melanistic tigers coming through because of inbreeding. Sometimes black leopards are misidentified as black tigers.
RELATED: see a website dedicated to the tiger.
Tigers are symbol of sustainability of India’s forests…
Sharing an interesting clip of a rare melanistic tiger marking its territory on international Tigers day.
From a Tiger Reserve poised for recovery of an isolated source population with a very unique gene pool. Kudos?? pic.twitter.com/FiCIuO8Qj4
— Susanta Nanda IFS (@susantananda3) July 29, 2022
The ranger says that the tiger is scent marking. I think the tiger is checking scent on the tree deposited by another animal, perhaps another tiger.
Below are some more pages on Bengal tigers.