World’s first white tiger sanctuary opened
Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, and Union Steel Minister Narendra Singh Tomar have inaugurated the world's first white tiger sanctuary open for public. The inaugurated 25-hectare sanctuary is currently home only to Vindhya, a white tigress. Raghu, a white tiger, and Radha, a white tigress from an adjoining zoo are expected to join Vindhya soon.
The white tiger is a variant of the Bengal tiger species usually found in forests of Indian states like Bengal, Bihar, Assam and Madhya Pradesh. Contrary to the belief of many, the white tiger is neither an albino nor does it belong to a different species. The feline's coat has no color because of the absence of pheomelanin pigment due to a genetic mutation.
Despite the fact that white tigers belong to the Bengal tiger species, they tend to grow faster and bigger than the ordinary Bengal tiger. Currently, there are only a few hundred white tigers in the world, and about a hundred are present in India. A white tiger is naturally-born when both of its parents carry a dominant gene that controls the coat color.
White Bengal tigers are being endangered due to poaching, habitat loss, and expansion of human population. Genetic inbreeding of white Bengal tigers, which results in high mortality rates, disabilities or deformities also leads to their endangerment. Some cubs suffer mental abnormalities while some are still-born. Trading of the white tiger's body parts, which are used in traditional Chinese medicines, also makes their survival difficult.
Due to genetic inbreeding, over 80% of the white tiger cubs are born with birth-defects which lead to death. The birth-defects include spine scoliosis, cross yes, clubbed feet, abnormal kidneys, blindness, retinal deterioration, immune deficiency, leg or bone deformities, etc.
Madhya Pradesh Public Relations and Energy Minister Rajendra Shukla had announced that the world's first white tiger sanctuary would be opened in Mukundpur, Rewa. He said that Union Ministers Prakash Javadekar and Narendra Singh Tomar along with Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan would inaugurate the White Tiger Zoo and Rescue Centre. He said that the sanctuary would be opened on 3 April 2016.
In India, the origin of the white tiger was recorded between 1556-1605. In 1951, Maharaja Martand Singh had captured an orphan white tiger. That white tiger named Mohan is believed to be the ancestor of all known white tigers.
After inaugurating the white tiger sanctuary, Union Minister Javadekar said: "There are 48 tiger reserves in the country, Mukundpur is a unique safari. This is not five star, it should be a seven star tiger safari."
Wildlife experts weren't impressed with the idea of conservation of the white tiger. Wildlife Conservator PM Lad stated that the aberration looks good, but the feline doesn't serve a conservation purpose. He added that white tigers are exhibit animals which increase zoo revenues and attendance. Experts said that the sanctuary was an effort by Rajendra Shukla to become an influential leader next to the CM.