The mystery of the 'black tigers' of Similipala | In Focus podcast

Dr. Uma Ramakrishnan and Vinay Sagar speak to us on what caused the tigers at the Similipala reserve to change their stripes

September 16, 2021 03:59 pm | Updated 08:33 pm IST

More than 50 years ago, when tribals in Similipal reported seeing tigers so dark , their stripes almost fused together in patches, threatening to erase parts of their orange coats, nobody believed them.

Since then, there have been numerous sightings of pseudo-melanistic tigers--as they are called-- at Similipal Tiger Reserve, but we didn’t know what caused them to change their stripes. Until now. Scientists at the National Centre for Biological Studies, Bengaluru have unravelled the mystery of these ‘black tigers’ and their findings were published earlier this week in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

 What caused these tigers to change their stripes, and in such a short period of time? Is it the result of shrinking habitat and inbreeding? Does this make them more susceptible to extinction? We discuss these in this podcast.

Guests: Dr. Uma Ramakrishnan, molecular ecologist and professor at the National Centre for Biological Studies, Bengaluru; Vinay Sagar, PhD student and lead author of the paper.

Host: Anjali Thomas, City Editor-Bengaluru, The Hindu

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