Endangered White Tiger
About White Tiger
White tiger is a subspecies of tiger, but not specifically an albino. The White tiger is an offspring of Bengal tiger, which has the necessary gene for white coloring. They have beautiful black stripes on a white coat. This species of animal has blue eyes and a pink nose.
A pure White tiger is totally white without any stripe, which is due to the presence of a double recessive allele in the genetic code. It happens only in the Bengal tiger subspecies, and only one in 10,000 births can have it naturally.
White tigers are rarely seen in the wild, and only twelve of them have been spotted in India since last one-hundred years. Tigers have a life-span of 10-15 years. They are solitary animals, and are fond of hunting at night. Their diet consists of any animal that they can catch, and can eat up to 40 pounds of meat at one time. After such a big meal, they will remain away for several days from eating again.
They are slow runners, but good swimmers. They are poor climbers and cannot climb a tree easily. They live in an area ranging from 10 to 30 square miles depending upon the availability of prey, water, and shelter.
Causes of Endangerment of White Tiger
Habitat loss, poaching, and expansion of human population have together contributed to their being endangered. They are widely hunted for their body-parts, which are used in traditional Chinese medicines.
Genetic inbreeding is another reason for their endangerment. Due to shortage in their numbers, this species of animal has been subjected to inbreeding. It has resulted in high mortality rates and severe disabilities. About 80 percent of the White tiger cubs are born with serious birth-defects related to inbreeding, and they soon die-off.
Of the few survivors, most of them have birth-defects such as retinal degeneration, scoliosis of the spine, cross-eyes, deafness, hip or leg deformities, clubbed feet, kidney abnormalities, immune deficiency, etc. They also suffer from mental problems like depression and unpredictable behavior. Moreover, some are still-born.
Selective breeding is very risky, and there is no guarantee of birth of a White tiger cub every single time the species breeds. In addition to it, trade in the cubs of this endangered animal for Chinese medicines has made their existence difficult.
Conservation of Endangered White Tiger
The critical condition of this animal has attracted the attention of conservationists worldwide. World Wildlife Federation (WWF), Defenders of Wildlife, and many other wildlife organizations are working with the support of the government for the cause of protecting them from becoming extinct. Once they become extinct, it will not be possible to bring them back to life.
Due to increasing number of genetic problems, the Species Survival Plan (SSP) coordinators are not in favor of continuing the breeding of White tiger in their managed programs.
Therefore, public awareness is the first step in the direction of saving this animal. With your conscious and determined efforts, you can make a meaningful contribution to save this endangered animal.