The tiger, named Fareeda, has been hand-reared by keepers at the Cango Wildlife Ranch, near Cape Town, South Africa, as part of a unique breeding programme to save the White Bengal species from extinction.
Six-month-old Fareeda joins an exclusive club – stripeless tigers are so rare that experts estimate there are fewer than 20 others like it anywhere in the world – all in captivity.
In common with 99 per cent of the species, Fareeda’s brother Shahir and sister Sitarah were both born with typical black tiger stripes.
Odette Claassen, 52, a representative of Cango Wildlife Ranch, told reporters that the zoo-keepers had to wait six months before they could be sure Fareeda definitely did not have stripes saying, “Some cubs develop stripes in their first few months but after six months it’s clear that Fareeda is truly one of the rarest of her kind.
“Most white Bengal tigers are bred in the US from a single male captured in the 1950s, but Fareeda is the first to be born in Africa, which is very special.
“She has a lovely nature and loves playing with her brothers and sisters, although she has nipped me a few times when she wants a feed.
“White Bengal tigers are not albino, they have distinctive blue eyes, and they used to be found in Northern India before they died out.
“My hope is that one day Fareeda and her kind can be returned to their native habitat and that is why it is so important to educate people about tigers and keeping the breeding programmes going.”
Image Credit – CATERS via The Daily Telegraph
[Source – Daily Telegraph]