Endangered Species of the South China Tiger
The South China Tiger is the smallest subspecies of tiger and currently one of the most critically endangered. During the 1950s, it was estimated that there were well over 4,000 South China Tigers living in the wild. These numbers have dropped dramatically, with many estimating that only twenty remain outside of captivity. In fact, there have been no sighting by any biologist or official in the wild in the last twenty-five years. It is possible that there are no longer tigers outside of captivity.
How did this population go from a thriving number to making the list of the world’s top 10 most endangered species?
From 1958 to 1961, China’s Great Leap Forward was implemented with intentions of improving China’s economic situation through industrialization and collectivization. It was during this time that the South China Tiger was listed as one of four pests that were considered a hinderance to progress because they often attacked the livestock of farmers. This label began mass exterminations of the species living in Southeast China. By the time China outlawed tiger hunting in 1979, the killings had already put the population down to less than 200 and the ban was seemingly much too late.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, “If any South China tigers remain in the wild, these few individuals would be found in montane sub-tropical evergreen forest of southeast China, close to provincial borders. The habitat is highly fragmented, with most blocks smaller than 200 square miles and not large enough to sustain a tiger population.”(1) Despite this setback, there is hope. In 1995, China declared the survival of the South China Tiger to be a conservation priority. A number of organizations and groups have also since been formed to promote population growth in this subspecies. A re-wilding project backed by Save China’s Tiger and the State Forestry Administration has successfully taken off. This re-wilding project takes captive tigers to South Africa where they learn to hunt and survive in the wild with hopes of someday reintroducing them to the wild in China. Since starting with two tiger cubs back back September 2003, fourteen cubs have been born with eleven surviving infancy. Because of this success, a re-wilding base in the Fujian Province of China has been approved by the State Forestry Administration. With these future efforts, thanks to the protection of humans, it is possible that we may someday see the South China Tiger reemerge in the wild and be removed from the endangered species list.
by The Great Gathering
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