- September 14, 2021
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN Topics
Subject – Environment
Context – NCBS study of ‘black tigers’ has shed light on genetic mystery.
- Black tigers — the tigers whose stripes are almost fused together in patches threatening to obliterate parts of their burnished orange coats.
- An estimated 37% of Panthera tigris in the Similipal Tiger Reserve (in eastern India) are pseudomelanistic, characterised by wide, merged stripes.
- This is the result of a rare mutation in one gene, Transmembrane Aminopeptidase Q or Taqpep, recessively inherited variants of which are responsible for the marks in domestic cats and king cheetahs.
- The mutation is rarely seen in tigers outside Similipal.
- Two factors are probably driving this change in appearance caused by the rare Taqpep p.H454Y: a founder bottleneck effect when a small subset of a large population, in this case tigers, establishes a new population, and the resulting genetic drift, where chance, more than natural selection, changes how common or rare genetic variants are.
- With shrinking habitats, the tiger population becomes increasingly isolated. This causes inbreeding, resulting in a lack of genetic variation, making them prone to extinction.
Simplipal Tiger Reserve
- Similipal National Park is a national park and a tiger reserve in the Mayurbhanj district in the Indian state of Odisha covering 2,750 km2 (1,060 sq mi).
- It is part of the Mayurbhanj Elephant Reserve, which includes three protected areas — Similipal Tiger Reserve, Hadgarh Wildlife Sanctuary and Kuldiha Wildlife Sanctuary.
- Simlipal National Park derives its name from the abundance of red silk cotton trees growing in the area.
- The park is home to Bengal tiger, Asian elephant, gaur, and chausingha.
- This protected area is part of the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves since 2009.
- Simlipal Elephant Reserve is an ecosystem complete with forest vegetation (mainly sal trees), fauna and the adjoining Ho / Santhal tribal settlements.
- Two tribes, the ErengaKharias and the Mankirdias, inhabit the reserve’s forests and practise traditional agricultural activities (the collection of seeds and timber).