Sunday, June 6, 2010
One of the smaller species of tiger, the length of the South China tiger ranges from 2.2–2.6 m (87–100 in) for both males and females. Males weigh between 127 and 177 kg (280 and 390 lb) while females weigh between 100 and 118 kg (220 and 260 lb).
From 1983 to 2007, no South China tigers were sighted. In 2007 a farmer spotted a tiger and handed in photographs to the authorities as proof. The photographs in question, however, were later exposed as fake, copied from a Chinese calendar and photoshopped, and the “sighting” turned into a massive scandal.
1977 Chinese authorities have passed a law that prohibits the hunting of wild tirove, but this may be have too late to save this tigers subspecies, since it is possible that they are already extinct in the wild. There are currently 59 known captive South China tigers, all within China, but these are known to be descended from only six animals. Thus, the genetic diversity required to maintain the subspecies may no longer exist. Currently, there are breeding efforts to reintroduce these tigers to the wild.
The main reason for their extinction is excessive hunting, for the purpose of traditional Chinese medicine. Unfortunately, tiger body parts are still used in Chinese medicine, and the government is poorly controlled this branch of medicine.