• By Sanjay Jha, ITV News

The world's first white tiger sanctuary has opened in India in a bid to increase the tiger population and protect the species' natural habitat.

White tigers have attracted the attention of thousands ever since the first of its kind was discovered by the King ruler (Maharaja) of Rewa, who found it orphaned in the jungle, in 1951.

In the hope to continue the white tiger's legacy, the local government has set up the white tiger safari in Mukundpur, Rewa.

"It is big tribute to my forefather to bring the white tiger legacy back to its place of origin," says Pusphraj Singh, descendant of the former princely state of Rewa - where the first white tiger named as Mohan was spotted by Martand Singh in 1951.

More than 500 white tigers live in Madhya Pradresh. Credit: Vivek DuttaGupta/ ITV News

White tigers are a mutant variety of the yellow tiger - they have a gene that is the outcome of a mutation process and gives the yellow tiger a white coloured skin and blue eyes.

White tigers are often larger than the Royal Bengal tigers but are believed to lack the agility of coloured tigers to hunt in the wild.

The first white tiger, Mohan, then remained in the area for more than 20 years before its offspring spread gradually to other parts of the world.

The first white tiger is believed to have been discovered in 1951 in Rewa. Credit: Vivek DuttaGupta/ITV News

Since Mohan was a very young when he was first found, he was kept in a facility at the Govindgarh palace till he became an adult tiger.

Mohan then mated with a yellow tigress and the tigress gave birth to two yellow cubs.

Most of them have either been kept in India or been given to various zoos in America, Britain and Indonesia.

The government has set up the white tiger safari in Mukundpur, Rewa to continue the legacy. Credit: Vivek DuttaGupta/ITV News

After the tiger's death it was mounted and presented to the Emperor King George V, as a token of loyalty.

There are already many white tigers across the globe which are also a result of their inbreeding efforts.

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Tigers live in the Indian state of Madhya Pradresh - home to the highest number of wild tigers.

Secretary of Tourism, Faiz Kidwai, said: "We plan to focus on creating favourable conditions for the conservation of tigers especially the rare White Tiger".

He added: "We plan to create around 11 more protected areas within the state".