White Tiger History

White Tiger History - Page 1&2: The First Known White Tigers | 3: White Tigers In The U.S.A. |
4: Chronology Of The White Bengal Tiger


The first recorded white tigers:

The first white tiger to be captured was not, as is often claimed, the famed Mohan. There were several captures and a large number of sightings (and shootings) prior to this. For instance, in one of the earliest records a white tiger was displayed at Exeter Change in 1820.

Shootings were common between 1892 and 1922 in places like Orissa, Upper Assam, Bilaspur, Cooch Behar and Poona. Between the 1920s and 1930s fifteen white tigers were killed in the region of Bihar alone. Some of these trophies were placed on display in the Calcutta Museum. (Incidentally, this is the ninth oldest regular museum in the world).

In December 1915, still a full thirty-six years prior to the capture of Mohan, Maharajah Gulab Singh of Rewa caught a white cub. At the time of capture it was approximately two-years-old and lived in captivity at the Maharajah's summer palace for another five years. The tiger was then stuffed and sent as a gift to King George V as a sign of India's loyalty to the crown. To this day white tigers are still kept at the Maharajah's summer palace which is located at Govindgarh.

The most famous white tiger of all -- Mohan:

In May 1951, Maharajah Shri Martand Singh was hunting in the jungles of Bandhavgarh, (central India). On the 25th a report came in that a tigress had been sighted with four cubs, one of which was white.

The next day a search was carried out designed to find the tigress. This involved the beating of drums and cans, firing shots, trumpet blasts and shouting.

It is recorded that the tigress slowly approached the hide where the Maharajah was seated with his guests. There was little apparent concern from her and she probably wasn't aware of the threat.

The tigress was shot and this was followed by two of her four cubs. More by luck than planning the white cub escaped. Rules of the time allowed the shooting of a tigress with cubs and this was very common. Back at base camp the kills were logged, a fairly routine job.

The next morning no trace of the white cub could be found, but eventually pug marks were sighted at a kill made by the mother. Hunger had bought the cub back and it had hidden in a rock crevice.

The above image is an often shown, but very fanciful depiction of the cub's first capture. As will be  seen, the only attempt to use a net was a few days later and this failed badly.

What actually happened was less impressive. A local carpenter made a drop-gate cage which was placed at the exit to the crevice. Knowing the cub must be getting thirsty, water was used to tempt the cub into the cage. Several hours later the plan worked and the youngster was captured. He was returned to the Maharajah's 150-roomed palace and placed in a large open courtyard.

On the 30th May, only three days after its capture, the white cub escaped and a long hunt was organised to try and recover it. There were several violent confrontations during which time an attempt to net the cub resulted in a mauling. When the cub again attempted to attack he was clubbed hard on the head. The thump knocked him unconscious and gave the men the chance to tie his legs and cage him.

The white cub was reintroduced to a repaired courtyard where he was to live for the remainder of his life.

This tiger was the famed Mohan.

(Continued Page 2)


White Tiger History - Page 1&2: The First Known White Tigers | 3: White Tigers In The U.S.A. |
4: Chronology Of The White Bengal Tiger

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Photography With Thanks To Hans Stenström (Photo 1-2)
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