IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


27th January, 2024 Environment


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  • The government told the Rajya Sabha that there are 10 black tigers (melanistic tigers) in India and all are found exclusively in Odisha's Similipal tiger reserve.

Black Tigers


  • Black tigers, also known as melanistic tigers, are a rare color variant of the Panthera tigris species, characterized by a distinct black coat with dark stripes.
  • This genetic variation is a result of the presence of a specific gene responsible for pigmentation.

Genetic Basis:

  • The black coloration is attributed to the presence of the melanistic gene, which influences the production of pigments, particularly melanin.
  • A single mutation in the gene Transmembrane Aminopeptidase Q (Taqpep) results in black colour.
  • This gene is inherited from the parents, and the cub must inherit the gene from both parents to express the melanistic trait.

Geographical Distribution:

  • Melanistic tigers have been reported sporadically across various regions, but they are particularly associated with the dense forests of the Indian subcontinent.
  • Some melanistic tigers have been observed in the forests of the Indian states of Odisha, Assam, and the Sundarbans mangrove region.

Frequency and Rarity:

  • Melanistic tigers are extremely rare, constituting only a small percentage of the overall tiger population.
  • Their rarity is due to the need for both parents to carry the melanistic gene for a cub to express this coloration.


  • Like other tiger subspecies, melanistic tigers face threats such as habitat loss, poaching, and human-wildlife conflict.

IUCN status

  • Endangered

Similipal Tiger Reserve


  • Mayurbhanj district, Odisha; part of the Similipal-Kuldiha-Hadgarh Elephant Reserve.


  • Home to Erenga Kharias and Mankirdias tribes.


  • Diverse landscapes with major rivers Khairi and Deo.


  • Distinct genetic cluster prioritized for conservation.

Melanistic Tigers:

  • Sole population of melanistic tigers globally.


  • Tiger reserve since 1956; under Project Tiger since 1973.
  • Declared a biosphere reserve in 1994.
  • UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserve since 2009.

Other Protected Areas in Odisha:

  • Part of a network including Bhitarkanika National Park, Chilika (Nalaban island) WLS, Baisipalli WLS, Nandankanan WLS, and Gahirmatha (Marine) WLS.
  • Similipal Tiger Reserve, with its unique melanistic tigers and diverse ecosystems, epitomizes India's commitment to biodiversity conservation on both national and global fronts.


Q. Which Indian state is home to the exclusive population of melanistic tigers, also known as black tigers.




4.West Bengal

Answer: 2. Odisha