History of Bandhavgarh National Park & Mohan, the father of all Bengal white tigers

For the admirers of the spectacular tigers & those interested to know more about Mohan – the founding father of the white tigers of Rewa – this story is a must read for you.

Known as the first ancestor of Bengal’s white tiger population, Mohan’s narrative begins in being caught in the wild as a cub & thereafter, raised in captivity. Raised in the court of Maharaja of Rewa Martand Singh, Mohan was just a cub when he was first captured. The cub lost his mother and siblings to the onslaught of hunters, and was brought to the court of Govindgarh.

He was captured as a cub in 1951 by Maharaja of Rewa,whose hunting party in Bandhavgarh found a tigress with four 9-month-old cubs, one of which was white. All of them were shot except for the white cub.

The cub was subsequently captured and was housed in the unused palace at Govindgarh in the erstwhile harem courtyard. The Maharaja named him Mohan. Determined of procuring more white cubs – for the lure of one enchanted the hunters more than anything else – the Maharaja had Mohan breed with their ‘royal consort’ Begum, who was a normal coloured wild tigress. However, even after three attempts, the duo failed to procreate a white cub, and all the cubs born were of normal colour.

In 1953, Mohan was bred to a normal-coloured wild tigress called Begum (“royal consort”), which produced two male orange cubs on September 7, one of which went to Bombay Zoo. In 1955 they had a litter of two males and two females on April 10 (which included a male named Sampson and a female named Radha), all normal-coloured. On July 10, 1956 they again had a litter of two males and two females, which included a male named Sultan who went to Ahmedabad Zoo, and a female named Vindhya who went to the Delhi Zoo and was later bred to an unrelated male named Suraj. Once again, the breeding experiments failed to yield a single white cub.

Mohan was then bred to his daughter Radha (who carried the white gene inherited from her father) with success. The initial litter of four cubs, born on October 30th, 1958—a male named Raja, and three females named Rani, Mohini, and Sukeshi—were the first white tigers born in captivity. White tigers are held captive around the world for their colour and financial purposes. Only 0.001% of the tiger population represents the white colour. And even though the breeding of white tigers is seriously condemned, the process is still extremely rampant. So much so that experts believe that it leads to the loss of genetic variability and inbreeding depression in the animals.

Mohan breathed his last at the age of 20 in Rewa, Madhya Pradesh and was laid to rest with Hindu rites.

Mohan was the last white tiger born in the wild and hence will always be remembered as a legend.

The Maharaja of Rewa turned Mohan’s native forest into the Bandhavgarh National Park.