Black Tigers - 1:
Introduction To Melanism | 2:
Early Evidence Of Black Tigers | 3&4:
The C.T. Buckland Black Tiger Story
5: Black Tigers Of Similipal Tiger Reserve | 6: A Colour Image!
Melanistic tigers -- mistaken identity?:
It has often been suggested that reports of black tigers are people confusing leopards and tigers. The chances of this happening are not as unlikely as it might first seem. in 1937 an animal described as a 12-foot tiger proved to be an 8-foot leopard. The confusion was started through a language translation error. No doubt some of the black tiger sightings can be accounted for as mistaken identity, but very obviously not all of them. For instance, could all of the people in the following story have been mistaken regarding the animal they saw?
This article from the Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society, 1889, Volume 4, pages 149-150 documents the finding of a dead black tiger at Chittagong (now part of Bangladesh). The tiger was recorded as having killed a villager and was often seen to be attacking domestic stock.
A Black Tiger:
No authentic record exists of a black tiger having been seen or killed in Bengal, so I am informed. Black leopards are well known, especially in the Madras Presidency and in the Straits Settlements, and I have heard of them in Bengal, though I never saw them alive there (except in the Calcutta Zoological Gardens). But before I go hence and am no more seen, I wish to state that I and several others saw a dead black tiger at Chittagong, and from the entries in my diary, which was pretty regularly kept, I know that it was in March 1846.
The news was brought into the station that a dead black tiger was lying near the road that leads to Tipperah, distant about two miles from Chittagong. In the early morning we rode out to see it; but several of the party - Sir H. Ricketts, Mr. Fulwar Skipwith, Captain Swatman and Captain Hore - are no longer alive, and I cannot produce any eye-witness to attest my statement, although several friends to whom I have written recollect that they heard something about it at the time.
I remember perfectly well that the body of the animal was lying in the low bush jungle about twenty yards south of the road, and we dismounted to go and look at it. It was a full-sized tiger, and the skin was black or very dark brown, so that the stripes showed rather a darker black in the sunlight, just as the spots are visible on the skin of a black leopard.
The tiger had been killed by a poisoned arrow, and had wandered away more than a mile from the place where it was wounded before it lay down to die. By the time that we arrived the carcass was swollen, the flies were buzzing about it, and decomposition had set in, so that those of our party who knew best decided that the skin could not be saved.
I was young
and inexperienced, but Captain Swatman, who was in charge of
the Government elephant kheddas, and Captain Hore (afterwards
Lord Ruthven), of the 25th N.I, were well-known sportsmen, and
had each of them killed many tigers. No doubt was expressed
about the animal being a black tiger, and I have often mentioned
the fact in conversation from time to time.