Although there are only a couple hundred white tigers in the world, they are not necessarily considered endangered because they are not their own species. A white tiger is actually the product of two Bengal tigers that have a recessive gene for white fur. There are few white tigers in the world because the mating of two tigers with such genes is statistically rare in the wild.
Most white tigers are bred in captivity by breeders who are trying to create a white tiger. Breeders like white tigers because of their popularity with people, but in order to create a white tiger, breeders have to inbreed for generations. This inbreeding causes a great deal of birth defects and problems like cleft pallets and mental issues.
In the wild, white tigers are rare. Records from India suggest that only 12 wild white tigers have been spotted in the country during a 100-year span. This number indicates that there is roughly one white tiger for every 10,000 orange tigers.
The first case of someone capturing a white tiger was in 1915, and that tiger was kept by the same owner until he died. In 1951, another white tiger was captured, and he was bred numerous times. All of the white tigers currently in captivity are related to this tiger.