The South China tiger is a tiger subspecies that was native
to the provinces of Fujian, Guangdong, Hunan, Jiangxi in
southern China. The Chinese tiger (commonly known as South
China Tiger) is the most endangered of the five remaining
subspecies of tiger and it is believed to be the origin of all
the tiger subspecies. It has been classified as critically
endangered since 1996 as it is possibly extinct in the wild.
There is a small chance that some individuals still exist,
but already in the late 1990s, continued survival was
considered unlikely due to low prey density, widespread
habitat degradation and fragmentation, and other human
pressures. No official or biologist has seen a wild South
China tiger since the early 1970s, when the last verified
record is of an individual brought into captivity.
The South China tiger is the smallest tiger subspecies from
mainland Asia, but bigger than the subspecies known from the
Sunda islands such as the Sumatran tiger. Male measure from
91 to 104 inches and weigh 290 to 390 lbs. Females are smaller
and measure 87 to 94 inches and weigh 240 to 250 lbs.
Tigers are carnivores. They prefer hunting wild pig,
deer, muntjac and Gray langur. Small prey species such as
porcupines, hares and peafowl form a very small part in
their diet. Due to the encroachment of humans into their
habitat, they also prey on domestic livestock.
In the early 1950s, the South China tiger was reported to
number more than 4,000 individuals in the wild when it became
the target of large-scale government ‘anti-pest’ campaigns
promulgated by Mao Zedong’s ‘Great Leap Forward’. By 1982,
only an estimated 150–200 South China tigers remained in the wild.
In 1973, South China tigers were classified as protected by
controlled hunting. In 1977, they were classified as protected,
and hunting them was prohibited.
As of March 1986, 17 Chinese zoos kept 40 purebred South
China tigers in their collections, including 23 males and
14 females, none of which were wild-born. All were third
or fourth generation descendants of one wild Fujian tigress
and five Guizhou tigers.
By 1987, the remnant population of wild South China tigers was
estimated at 30–40 individuals, so that danger of extinction
was imminent. During a survey in 1990, South China tiger
signs were found in 11 reserves in the mountains of Sichuan,
Guangdong, Hunan, Jiangxi and Fujian Provinces, but these data
were insufficient to estimate population size. No tigers
were directly observed; evidence was limited to sightings
of tracks, scrapings and reported sightings by local people.
In 2001, field studies were carried out in eight protected
areas encompassing 855 sq miles in five provinces
of south-central China using camera traps, GPS technology
and extensive sign surveys. But no evidence of tigers was
A South China Tiger in the Beijing Zoo
There may still be some surviving South China tigers in
the wild, with reports of tracks and local people sightings
from Qizimei Mountains Nature Reserve, Hubei Province and
in Yihuang county of Jiangxi Province. In May 2007,
the Government of China reported that there is no confirmed
presence, and declared the goal to reintroduce South China
tigers to the wild.
The non-governmental organisation Save China's Tigers, with
support of China’s State Forestry Administration, has developed
a plan to reintroduce captive-born South China tigers into
large enclosures in southern China. The main concerns
regarding the reintroduction are the availability of suitable
habitat and adequate prey.
One cub was born in a reserve in South Africa in November
2007, the first to be born outside China. Since then, a number
of cubs have been produced.
The new cub at one week old
and again at one month old
After a gestation period of 3 to 4 months, the female South
China tiger gives birth to up to 5 cubs. Newborn South China
tiger cubs weigh about 2 lbs and are blind and helpless.
The mother feeds them milk for about 2 months and then the
South China tiger cubs are introduced to meat. South China
tiger cubs depend on their mother for the first 18 months
and then they start hunting on their own.
China's captive South China tigers are now part of a centrally
registered studbook. Before a studbook was established it was
thought that this captive population was too small and lacking
in genetic diversity for any re-population program to be
successful, but since the start of the central register more
and more South China tigers have been identified in zoos
Save China's Tigers aims to rewild
the critically endangered South China tiger by bringing a few
captive-bred individuals to South Africa for rehabilitation
training for them to regain their hunting instincts. At the
same time, a pilot reserve in China is being set up and the
tigers will be relocated and release back in China when the
reserve in China is ready. The offspring of the trained tigers
will be released into the pilot reserves in China, while the
original animals will stay in South Africa to continue breeding.
The reason South Africa was chosen is because it is able to
provide expertise and resources, land and game for the South
China tigers. The South China tigers of the project has since
been successfully rewilded and are fully capable of hunting
and surviving on their own. This project is also very
successful in the breeding of these rewilded South China
tigers and 14 cubs have been born in the project of which 11
survived. These cubs of the 2nd generation would be able to
learn their survival skills from their successfully rewilded
It is hoped that the first second generation tigers
born at South Africa can be released into the wild.
Due to the size and power of the South China tiger, it has
no natural predators in its native environment. Humans that
hunt the South China tiger and habitat loss are the only
threats to the South China tiger.
One hundred years ago there were eight subspecies of tiger.
Three subspecies are now extinct:
The Bali tiger
The Javan tiger &
The Caspian tiger
Approximately 3,000 tigers were killed over 30 years ...
The fate of the Chinese Tigers lies in our hands ...
Are you willing to help? You can Donate by Mail at the
SAVE CHINA’S TIGERS (UK)
66D Royal Mint Street,
London E1 8LG, United Kingdom
Phone: +44 (0)20 7072 0930
UK Charity No.1082216
Save China’s Tigers (Australia)
PO Box 1915
Bondi Junction NSW 1355 Australia
Phone: +612 93865888
ABN 67 143 460 397
SAVE CHINA’S TIGERS LIMITED (HK)
P.O. Box 98322,
Tsimshatsui Post Office,
Kowloon, Hong Kong
Phone: +852 2525 8786
Reg. Charity No.28865
SAVE CHINA's TIGERS (Beijing)
PO Box 1928
Chinese Forestry Academy
100091 Beijing, China
Phone: +86 （0）10 6286 6588
Save China's Tigers (SA)
LAOHU VALLEY RESERVE
For any questions you might have about rewilding or adoptng
one of the Tiger cubs, , please email Save China's
Tigers at: email@example.com
Well Known and respected Chinese Gong Fu and International
Film Star Jackie Chang is Ambassador for Save China's Tigers"