The South China Tiger Is Extinct

by Michael
(London, UK)

South China/Indonesia tiger hybred (cross breed) in captivity in Kunming Zoo - Photo by ltansey (Flickr)

21st November 2010: This news has been coming for some time. We should not be surprised. The South China Tiger is extinct and that, it seems, means totally extinct. I am not just talking about extinct in the wild. That was a possibility for some time, which has now been confirmed.

But what about the rare South China tigers in captivity in China? Well, as anticipated it has now been admitted by Chinese scientists that they are all hybrids (cross breeds)!

Daniel Xu, a Chinese molecular biologist, has stated that there are no "pure" South China tigers in existence. There are no pure lineages left and all living South China tigers are "mixed with Indochinese tiger genes"1.

Well, that's it then, four subspecies down and how many to go? We are not sure because we don't know the true status of tiger populations, particularly when they are low, or the number of subspecies.

The other extinct subspecies of tiger are: Caspian, Bali, Javan. The remaining tiger subspecies are: Bengal (the most populous by far but shrinking fast), Siberian (very low population and even lower breeding population), Malaysian tiger (not certain that this is a different subspecies), Sumatran (extremely low population) and Indochinese tiger.

There is debate on whether the Siberian or South China tigers are the ancestors of all tigers. It is a dire state of affairs whichever way you look at it.

What is more dire is that the battle for conservation of the tiger is not being won; on the contrary it is being comprehensively lost, year on year.

The best minds in the conservation business are unable to change the course of the gradually extinction of tigers because they are worth too much dead! Or the forest where they live is becoming too valuable to leave standing. True.

Selected Associated Pages:

Tiger Bone

India Bengal Tiger Reserves

Tiger

The Bengal Tiger is Mismanaged

Tiger Farms - hideous practice (opens in a new window)

The South China Tiger Is Extinct -- Note:

1. Sunday Times Newspaper Nov. 21st 2010.

From The South China Tiger Is Extinct to Wild Cat Species

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The South China Tiger Is Extinct

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Jan 11, 2012 Dramatic Headline - False report
by: Cheetahguy

The South China tiger is a sick patient, but news of its demise are premature, thanx to sensationalist rags like the Sunday Times.

The inept writer didn't bother to actually check with Dr. Xu who has denied the extinction claim. Other accredited DNA studies like Chengdu University substantiate the ancestor to all tiger still is alive, albeit in captivity.

Yellow journalism doesn't help those trying to conserve it this magnificant animal.


Sep 11, 2011 Extinct
by: Michael

But if the tiger in captivity is a hybrid it can't be a South China tiger surely. A subspecies of tiger is just that because of its genotype. If the genotype is altered it is no longer the original tiger. The point I made is that the captive tigers are not purebred but generic.


Sep 11, 2011 definition of extinct
by: Anonymous

clearly your definition of extinct is different to the actual definition,

the real definition is that it 'it has no living members' and 'is no longer in existence'

there are still south china tigers in zoos and some in conservation in South Africa, through the save the tigers foundation.

clearly, there not yet extinct.


Aug 25, 2011 Good point
by: Michael

It seems that DNA analysis has changed taxonomy and reduced the number of species. In the old days if it looked different it was a different species and now we know better.


Aug 25, 2011 tiger comparisons
by: Anonymous

they have confirmed the fact that the siberian and caspian tigers are actually the same species. but now we are wondering if the south china tiger and indo chinese tiger is actually the same species. we have also wondered about javan and sumatran tigers if they were the same species as well, that the javan tiger might have been identical to the sumatran tiger. the same way that the indochina tiger might be identical to the south china tiger?


May 23, 2011 south china tiger extinct!!!!!
by: Jaynie

Well my opinion is that yet again another one of many of our planets mose beautiful n totally eligant creatures have vanished 4 ever as a result of yet another case of the human populations total dissregard and sheer ignorance to think that we have a rite to come before any other life form on the planet, the human race probably will be responserble for our own extintsion out of total disreguard n absalute ignorance towards our and every other life form that dose inhabit our unique planet, nomatter wat species has the rite to inhabit together equally and in hamony our planet, once they r gone thers no comebak n just unfair and totally unjust!!!!!.


May 23, 2011 south china tiger extinct!!!!!
by: Jaynie

Well my opinion is that yet again another one of many of our planets mose beautiful n totally eligant creatures have vanished 4 ever as a result of yet another case of the human populations total dissregard and sheer ignorance to think that we have a rite to come before any other life form on the planet, the human race probably will be responserble for our own extintsion out of total disreguard n absalute ignorance towards our and every other life form that dose inhabit our unique planet, nomatter wat species has the rite to inhabit together equally and in hamony our planet, once they r gone thers no comebak n just unfair and totally unjust!!!!!.


Apr 12, 2011 Upadtes - additions
by: Michael

I receive the Feline Conservation Federation's magazine and in their March/April 2011 edition (pages 26-28) there is an informative and well written article by Li Quan the founding director of Save China's Tigers (SCT). This is a UK charity that she founded in 2000.

She clearly believes that there is something left to save which runs counter to the story that I posted above.

She acted to conserve the South China tiger as it was "on the brink of extinction". She says that "fewer than 30 South China tigers may still exist in the wild" and around 100 in captivity.

She says that a "foreign survey's team" part funded by SCT, "unilaterally declared the South China tiger extinct after only a hasty and incomplete survey".

As a result Li Quan focused more on a rewlding project - reintroducing the captive tigers into the wild. Captive tigers in China were to be exported to South Africa for I presume breeding purposes and thence back to China in the wild.

This flies in the face of the statement that the captive South China tiger is not purebred and is therefore not a South China tiger.

Personally I am inclined to believe that the captive South China tigers are not purebred and therefore the whole idea of rewilding them is worthless, indeed worse than that because we will have hybrid Bengal/South China tigers wandering around China reserves where no doubt a poacher will kill them for their body parts to supply China's pharmaceutical business.

Sorry to be so negative and cynical but it is based on a long factual history of this sort of behavior.

One last thing: Li Quan says that she had to fight with other conservationists to get her project off the ground.

This is very disheartening. Conservationists are failing in respect of tiger conservation. Millions are spent but the tiger, whatever the subspecies, is becoming extinct year on year in the wild. Captive tigers are hybrids. It is a complete failure.

Conservationists groups should not be arguing amongst themselves. There should be a worldwide strategy and it should focus on China's insatiable appetite for tiger body parts. You have to tackle tiger conservation at the demand end not in a reactive defensive manner for it to be successful.

But no one will challenge China for the simple reason that they have a stranglehold on the supply of cheap consumer goods to the west and they provide loans to countries in the west. They can dictate to us. We are frightened to upset them.

It is highly depressing. We must upset China. Do it. Politicians should show some balls for once.


Mar 28, 2011 The South China Tiger Is Extinct
by: Anonymous

Well,to be frank,wasn't this expected? With many many thanks $ congratulations to Mr. Jintao.


Mar 28, 2011 The South China Tiger Is Extinct
by: Anonymous

Well,to be frank,wasn't this expected? With many many thanks $ congratulations to Mr. Jintao.


Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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