Harry R. Caldwell’s Blue Tiger caused a sensation when it was published in 1925, and seventy-five years later it has not entirely gone away. Caldwell, a big-game hunter and Methodist missionary to China, wrote of his close encounter with one of the blue cats mentioned in the title. The incident occurred in September 1910, in the Futsing region of Fujian Province, when his attention was directed to a blue object, which he at first took to be the blue in a man’s clothes. On second look he found that the blue was the body of the tiger.
Caldwell described it this way: “The markings of the animal were marvelously beautiful. The ground color seemed a deep shade of maltese, changing into almost deep blue on the under parts. The stripes were well defined, and so far as I was able to make out similar to those of a tiger of the regular type.”
He tried to get a shot off, but two boys were in the line of fire. By the time he changed position, the tiger had slipped away. Caldwell said other sightings of the Blue Tiger were reported from the same region, but that was to be his only sighting of it.
According to Bernard Heuvelmans, these large Blue Tigers have been “persistently” reported from China since the 1920s. Similar accounts of Black Tigers, which are also known only from sightings and not from any physical evidence, have been recorded from India, Java, Burma, and China since the 1800s. For example, in an 1889 issue of the Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society, the famous naturalist C. T. Buckland reported that in March 1846, in the region around Chittagong, India, a Black Tiger killed a local man. It—or one very much like it—was killed with a poison arrow. When he went to examine the body, Buckland found it, bloated and fly-infested, along the road near Tipperah, two miles from Chittagong. He took no skin or photographs, so all that is known of the matter is what he wrote about it.
As recently as 1998, unknown black mystery cats were being reported in China. News accounts in late November related that black felines were killing livestock in the Qinling Mountains in northwest China’s Shaanxi Province. Liu Shifeng, a professor of biology from Northwest China University, on his way to the Qinling Mountains to investigate, said that if the mystery felids are proved real, they will constitute a major zoological discovery. In 1984, he told a reporter, a hunter informed him that he had killed a black-panther-like animal on the hill-side near his house in Taibai.
Heuvelmans suggests that the color in Blue or Black Tigers may be caused by melanism. Because no official verdict exists and we know relatively little about the animals, these large cats remain cryptids.
The Encyclopedia of Loch Monsters,Sasquatch, Chupacabras, and Other Authentic Mysteries of Nature
Written by Loren Coleman and Jerome Clark – Copyright 1999 Loren Coleman and Jerome Clark