Special Contribution by Sanjay Kumar Shukla
The white or off white skin colour is not albinism but a generic manifestation of recessive gene for the white colour folowing breeding between close relatives, White tigers are usually heavier in built that their tawny counterparts.
The most famout of all the white tigers of India have been those of the old princely state of Rewa. In the diaries kept at the palace, are recorded no less than eight cases of white tigers there during the last fifty years.
In may 1951, another one, a nine-month-old white cub, was captured and kept by the Maharaja, and since then no more white ones have been reported in the forests of Rewa. (Source : The Whildlife of India by E.P. Gee).
It happened like this. At a big shoot a tigeress came out in a beat with four nine-month-old cubs. Of these cubs three were normal-coloured, and one was white-bigger and stronger than the others. The white one was not shot, and was captured later in a cage with water placed in it, for it was a dry place and at the dry time of the year.
This white male cub thrived in capativity & a normal-coloured tigress, also caught in Rewa forests, was kept with it.If this wild white tiger cub of the Rewa forests, possibly the last one of its kind, had not been captured, it would almost cetertainly have fallen a victim to some trigger-happy \”sportsman\” or poacher.
Now when this white cub grew up, it mated with the normal- coloured tigress, and three litters were produced one after the other. These cubs were all normal-coloured. So this tigeress, which had failed to produce a single white cub, was \”dismissed\” and disposed of, and a female cub of here second litter was mated its white father.
The resultant litter, born in October 1958, consisted of four white cubs, just like the father -ashy grey-brown stripes on a white background, pink paw pads and icy-blue eyes. Partial albinos.
The white tiger, found in India and then crossbred in captivity all over the world, was an integral part of Chinese ritual and belief and must once have been a reality in their forests. The white tiger was regarded as particularly sacred. Figures of white tiger feature in many Chinese temples.