White Tiger Classification and Evolution
The White Tiger (also known as the White Bengal Tiger) is a subspecies of Tiger, found throughout the Indian subcontinent. Although the range of the White Tiger is historically very large, these animals are incredibly rare as their colouration is dependent on a defective, recessive gene that is passed on from their parents. Over the past couple of centuries the White Tiger has become even rarer in the wild due to trophy hunting or capture for the exotic pet trade, with there having been no recorded sightings of these elusive predators for the past 50 years. Today, the White Tiger can still be found in a handful of zoos and animal sanctuaries around the world with these large and beautiful felines often being the star attraction. Along with the Bengal Tiger, the White Tiger is considered to be the second largest species of Tiger in the world after the Siberian Tiger.
White Tiger Anatomy and Appearance
The White Tiger is a large and powerful animal that can weigh up to 300kg and reaches more than 3 meters in length. Unlike the white variations found in other animal species, the White Tiger is not an albino as they still carry some form of pigment that creates their fur colour, as some individuals are known to retain an orange tinge to their white coloured fur. Like other Tiger species, the White Tiger has black or dark brown stripes that run vertically along its body, the pattern of which is unique to both the Tiger species and the individual. Along with the change in fur colour, the gene carried by the White Tiger's parents also means that they have blue eyes rather than the green or yellow coloured eyes of normal Bengal Tigers. Despite the beauty of the White Tiger's fur, it does in fact give these individuals a disadvantage as they are not so easily camouflaged into the surrounding jungle.
The White Tiger would once have been found throughout much of India and the surrounding countries but their range has decreased dramatically, particularly over the past 100 years or so. Today the Bengal Tiger is found in small pockets of its natural habitat in India, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh, and although populations are severely declining, they remain the most numerous Tiger species in the world. They are found in a variety of habitats including tropical forests, mangrove swamps and moist jungles that generally support dense vegetation and have a good source of fresh water. Although the White Tiger could once be found in the wild, it is very rare for the gene carrying parents to actually mate, and with the rapidly declining numbers of Bengal Tigers throughout their natural range, the chances of White Tigers being produced are becoming less every day.