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South China Tiger

The South China Tiger, Panthera tigris amoyensis, is one of the smallest subspecies of Tiger.  Other names for this creature are the Amor Tiger and the Xiamen Tiger.


Size

A fully grown Male South China Tiger will weigh about 150 Kg (330 lb).  This is a bit over half the size of the Siberian Tiger which is the biggest Tiger subspecies.  Females are smaller.

An Enemy of The People

In 1959, as part of the Great Leap Forward, Chairman Mao Zedong declared this animal to be an enemy of the people. Before this there were over 4000 of these Tigers in the wild.  Most were killed.

In 1982, the Chinese Government reversed its Tiger killing policy, and they are now protected.

Critically Endangered

The wild population of the South China Tiger is estimated to be about 20, but the accuracy of this estimate is very doubtful.

The captive status of this rare subspecies is more hopeful.  There are probably enough Tigers in zoos and similar places to save the subspecies.

Rewilding

There is a joint project involving both China and South Africa.  Captive South China Tigers are being bred in South Africa, and their cubs trained to hunt and survive in the wild. Fortunately, Tigers are reasonably easy to breed in captivity, and the semi wild animals in the project are breeding.  They will be used to repopulate some of its former range in China.

Problems

Although it appears possible to save this subspecies, there are a lot of problems. 

Habitat Destruction

Much of its habitat has been destroyed, and its prey animals greatly reduced in numbers.

Poaching

Tiger parts are used in traditional Chinese medicine.  The Chinese Government is attempting to stop the trade in Tiger parts, but it is difficult.  The possible returns to Tiger poachers are very high, and even the harsh punishments given to those caught committing crimes in China have not made its Tigers safe.

Lack of Genetic Diversity

The current population of this subspecies is very small, and they are descended from a very small number of animals.  This means that the gene pool is frighteningly small.

Man Eating

When there were more of these animals in the wild, they had the reputation of being more likely to become man eaters than any other type of tiger.  This behaviour, if it is resumed, will not tend to endear this creature to the local Human population.

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