The South China tiger, which is considered to be extinct in the wild and of which there are about 100 in captivity, has benefited from a recent high profile divorce case – Quan v Bray – in the High Court in London.
The family assets in this divorce case are valued at about £27m. Of that sum, £25m was placed in a trust fund by the husband, Stuart Bray, an American banker. The objectives of the trust fund was to finance the couple’s charity work with Chinese tigers.
They set up a charity called Save China’s Tigers. There is no doubt that the South China tiger needs saving. They say there are hundred left in captivity and there is a breeding program. My first question about that is whether these tigers are genetically purebred Chinese. Often tigers in captivity are what is called “generic” meaning there are mixed breed or non-purebred; what might be described as “moggie tigers”; which could well be the case in this instance.
Anyway, Mr Bray’s wife, Li Quan, claimed that her husband had put the family fortune, acquired during their relationship, into the trust fund to cheat her out of her share of it. She was claiming her share in the High Court.
She also claimed that her husband used it as a tax structure (meaning to pay less tax I suppose).
In this 25-day court hearing, which must have been very expensive, Mr Justice Coleridge, a long serving and well-respected judge, agreed with Mr Bray that the cash in the trust fund was earmarked for the tigers and that neither he nor his ex-wife were entitled to a penny of it.
And thus, the highly endangered or extinct-in-the-wild tiger, which once lived in China, has a chance of survival provided the £25,000,000 can succeed in creating a reserve in China of sufficient size and which is sufficiently protected where this rarest of wild cat species can survive and breed. I welcome the news and praise the couple for trying to save this subspecies of tiger.
The best conservation requires the full commitment of the citizens of the place where the wild cat species is to share the land with them. In fact it is an essential pre-requisite. Do they have that?
Personally, I have severe doubts whether it is possible to repopulate China with the tiger because the bottom line is that the citizens of China simply do not want the tiger back in their country and if they do it will simply present them with another opportunity to exploit it by killing it and eating it as is the current position regarding the Bengal tiger. Pessimistic and cynical? Yes, but an assessment based on past history. I hope I am incorrect.
Source: Times newspaper.