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February 7 @ 7:00 am - 11:30 pm


Odisha is gearing up to introduce the world’s first melanistic tiger safari near the Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR).

This initiative aims to showcase the unique melanistic tigers and raise awareness about their conservation needs.

Odisha’s Vision for Melanistic Tiger Safari:

Melanism and Melanistic Tiger:

  • Melanism is a genetic condition causing increased melanin production, resulting in black or nearly black skin, feathers, or hair in animals.
  • Similipal’s Royal Bengal Tigers exhibit pseudo-melanistic traits with black and yellow interspersed stripes due to elevated melanin levels.
  • All India Tiger Estimation, 2022, reports 16 tigers in Similipal Tiger Reserve, with 10 displaying melanistic traits.


Location of Safari:

  • Encompassing around 200 hectares near Dhanbad-Balasore National Highway-18, the safari site is close to STR, mimicking Simlipal’s landscape.
  • Initially, three melanistic tigers from Nandankanan Zoo, along with rescued or orphaned tigers, will inhabit open enclosures.


  • Raise awareness about the conservation needs of melanistic tigers.
  • Provide a platform for researchers and enthusiasts to engage with these rare big cats.

Approval Process:

  • The project requires approvals from the Central Zoo Authority and other wildlife regulatory bodies.
  • A National Tiger Conservation Authority committee will conduct a feasibility study before granting final clearance.

Other Colour Variations in Tigers:

Orange with Black or Brown Stripes:

  • Most common and widely recognized tiger coloration, exemplified by the Royal Bengal Tiger.
  • Each tiger’s unique stripe pattern serves as camouflage in their natural habitat.

White Tigers:

  • Not a separate subspecies; their white fur results from a genetic mutation called leucism.
  • Leucism causes reduced pigmentation, leading to white or pale-colored skin, fur, or feathers.

Golden Tigers:

  • Not a subspecies; their golden coloration stems from the recessive “wideband” gene.
  • The wideband gene reduces melanin production during hair growth cycles.
  • Recently observed in Kaziranga National Park.

Similipal Tiger Reserve:


  • Situated in the Deccan Peninsula Biogeographic Zone.


  • Predominantly moist mixed deciduous forest with tropical semi-evergreen patches, sporadic dry deciduous forests, and grasslands.

Floral Richness:

  • Home to 7% of India’s flowering plants and 8% of its orchid species.

Faunal Diversity:

  • Houses 55 mammal species, 361 bird species, 62 reptile species, 21 amphibian species, along with various insects and microfauna.
  • Major species include sambar, chital, barking deer, gaur, mouse deer, leopards, fishing cat, etc.
  • Management efforts have revived mugger crocodile populations along rivers Khairi and Deo.

Global Recognition:

  • Designated as a Global Network of Biospheres site since 2009.


Odisha’s initiative to establish the world’s first melanistic tiger safari near Similipal Tiger Reserve reflects a commitment to wildlife conservation and education.

By showcasing the uniqueness of melanistic tigers, the project aims to foster awareness and engagement, contributing to the broader efforts in preserving India’s rich biodiversity.


February 7
7:00 am - 11:30 pm
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