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November 18, 2017  |  Login

South China Tiger
Panthera tigris amoyensis

What Are They Like?

While tigers are the largest members of the cat family, the South China tiger is one of the smallest of the five tiger subspecies. Male tigers measure about 8 feet (2.4 meters) from head to tail and weigh about 330 pounds (150 kilograms). Female tigers are smaller, measuring about 7.5 feet (2.3 meters) long. They weigh approximately 240 pounds (110 kilograms). Their short, broad stripes are spaced farther apart than those of Bengal and Amur tigers. The South China tiger is considered to be the "stem" tiger, the subspecies from which all other tigers descended, and plays a large role in ancient Chinese culture.

Where Do They Live?

The natural habitat of the South China tiger is the moist forests of southern China. Sadly, there hasn't been a confirmed sighting in the wild for more than 25 years, and many scientists believe this tiger is "functionally extinct."

 
Did You Know?
The South China tiger, which was hunted as a pest throughout the 20th century, has been recently listed as one of the world's ten most endangered animals.

How Are Babies Made?

A female tiger gives birth to three to five cubs in a litter after a 16-week gestation period. There is usually a dominant cub in each litter that may be either male or female. Cubs weigh about 2.2 pounds (1 kilogram) at birth, and the cubs are dependent on their mother, who raises them alone until they are about a year old.

What Do They Eat?

These tigers hunt at night and may eat up to 40 pounds (18 kilograms) of food per day. South China tigers eat cows and goats in addition to wild prey. They can run at about 35 miles per hour (56 kilometers per hour).

 

What Do They Do?

Tigers are usually solitary, though males and females as well as cubs have been seen resting and hunting together. South China tigers also enjoy spending time in the water.

How Concerned Should We Be?

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which keeps a "Red List" of species in danger worldwide, lists the South China tiger as "critically endangered (Possibly extinct in the wild." As recently as the 1950s, there were over 4,000 of these tigers in the wild; today, fewer than 100 survive--in captivity. This rapid population decline can be attributed to several causes, such as low prey density and habitat destruction. These tigers were hunted as pests for many years, as well as for tiger parts sold on the black market.

What's Being Done?

The Chinese government seeks to reintroduce South China tigers to the wild; challenges include lack of genetic diversity and lack of suitable wild habitat.

 

A rare South China tiger is born in South Africa

 
 
 
 
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