After discovering and photographing the rare tiger, I had sent RAW and JPEG images to Sanctuary Asia and Belinda Wright, tiger conservationist and Emmy Award winning wildlife filmmaker who worked with National Geographic for many years.
Belinda said that this was the palest wild tiger she had seen in India, and an extremely rare find. But this is not a white tiger. White tigers have been extinct in the wild for more than 50 years, and suffer from horrendous inbreeding in captivity.
Dr. Parvish Pandya, zoologist and consultant with Sanctuary Asia, opined that the tiger was leucistic, and that pale colour was due to morphism. NBR is home to approximately 570 tigers, and has the world’s largest wild tiger population. Contiguous forest patches in NBR allow for good intermixing of genes, and random genetic mutations could occur naturally in such large populations, leading to such a rare, pale colour.
I had informed the forest department after the pale tiger sighting, and told them about the exact location, which remains classified because of crowding and poaching threats. Forest officials assured me that said that they are taking necessary steps to monitor and protect this big cat.