First photos of a wild South China Tiger in 34 years
By Jeremy Hance, special to mongabay.com
October 14, 2007
While there has been proof that the South China Tiger still lives in the Shaanxi province—sightings by locals, findings of footprints, hair, and teeth—there has been no photographic evidence of this species since 1964. But on October 3rd a local farmer, Zhou Zhenglong, took a total of 71 pictures of a South China Tiger in the wild. For his efforts the farmer received a payment of 20,000 yuan.
Many scientists believe that the South China Tiger is the subspecies from which all other tigers evolved. It is one of two tiger species in China, since Amur, or Siberian, Tigers still survive in Northeastern China. For many years the South China Tiger was thought to be extinct in the wild. The subspecies was heavily persecuted after Mao Zedong declared it, and other big predators, “enemies of the people” in 1954. Before Mao’s Great Leap Forward the total population of South China Tigers was estimated at 4,000 individuals. Today generous estimations put the number at 30.
Zhou Zhenglong, a farmer in Zhenping County, West China’s Shaanxi Province, shows a photo of the Penthern tiger (South China Tiger) he took on the mountain on October 3. [Courtesy of Xinhua]
A current project by the organization Save China’s Tigers has taken South China Tigers from zoos and created a space for them in a South African reserve from what used to be sheep farms. Offspring from these tigers, it is hoped, will be reintroduced in China. The greatest fear is that the South China Tiger may no longer possess the genetic diversity necessary to maintain a population in the long run.
Three subspecies of tiger have already gone extinct, all in the 20th Century: the Balinese Tiger, the Javan Tiger, and the shaggy Caspian Tiger. Six subspecies remain, all of which are labeled endangered by the IUCN.
Indo-Chinese tiger spotted in China for first time in years. Scientists captured a wild Indo-Chinese tiger on film in a nature reserve in China’s southeastern Yunnan Province, reports the Worldwatch Institute. The great cat was photographed in Xishuangbanna National Nature Reserve using infrared cameras. It was the first time the rare Indo-Chinese tiger (Panthera tigris corbetti) has been photographed in Yunnan.