Fareeda and her siblings were born on Christmas Day last year, and you can see Fareeda’s rare lack of markings
A snow white Bengal tiger has become the first of its kind to exist in the wild today after being born without stripes. The six-month-old cub is so rare it is thought there are fewer than 20 tigers like her alive in the world – all in captivity.
The tiger, which has been named Fareeda, was born to two white Bengal tigers. However, while Fareeda’s brother Shahir and sister Sitarah all bear the typical black tiger stripes, Fareeda is a one in a hundred chance of being born without.
Fareeda, who was hand-reared by keepers at Cango Wildlife Ranch, near Cape Town, South Africa, is part of a unique breeding programme to keep the White Bengal species alive.
Keepers at the ranch were delighted when Fareeda and her siblings were born on Christmas Day last year, but even more surprised to see Fareeda’s rare lack of markings.
Odette Claassen, 52, from Cango Wildlife Ranch, said the keepers had to wait six months before they could be sure Fareeda definitely did not have stripes.
She said: “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.
“When she was born Fareeda had noticeably pale colour it did cause a stir of excitement amongst the staff.
“But we knew there was the possibility of the cub’s very light black and ginger stripes darkening over time existed.
“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.”