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The South China Tiger Was Declared to Be an Enemy of the People by Mao

South China Tiger

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

Size

A fully grown Male South China Tiger will weigh around 150 kg (330 lb). This is a little more than half the size of the Siberian Tiger which is the largest subspecies of Tiger. Females are smaller.

An enemy of the people

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

In 1982, the Chinese government reversed its policy of killing tigers and they are now protected.

Endangered

The wild population of the South China Tiger is estimated to be around 20, but the accuracy of this estimate is highly questionable. The captive status of this rare subspecies is more promising. 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 bred in South Africa and their cubs are trained to hunt and survive in the wild. Fortunately, tigers are fairly easy to breed in captivity, and the semi-wild animals in the project are breeding. They will be used to recolonize part of its former range in China.

Problems

Although it seems possible to save this subspecies, there are many problems.

Habitat destruction

Much of its habitat has been destroyed and its prey has been greatly reduced in number.

Poaching

Tiger parts are used in traditional Chinese medicine. The Chinese government is trying to stop the trade in Tiger parts, but it is difficult. The potential returns to Tiger poachers are very high, and even the harsh punishments meted out 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 tiger species. This behavior, if repeated, will not tend to endear this creature to the local Human population.

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