Ancestor to all tigers, driven to the brink of extinction, the South China tiger struggles to recover from a genetic bottle-neck, and a vanishingly small population in the wild due to loss of habitat.

Adult male South China tiger:

- up to 265 cm length

- up to 175 kg

- broader, widely   spaced stripes

- females are smaller and lighter

- status: critically   endangered


and large-scale relocations of urban populations to rural locations leading to fragmentation of tiger populations.

In 1977 tigers were classified as protected and hunting was prohibited. By 1982, an estimated 150-200 South China tigers remained in the wild.


The South China tiger is the smallest tiger subspecies with the exception of the Sumatran tiger. Males measure 230 to 265 cm (91 to 104 in) and weigh 110 to 175 kg (243 to 385 lb). The coat has shorter fur than the Bengal or Siberian and is more intense yellowish colour; the stripes are broader, widely spaced and diamond-shaped patterns of the stripes can often be found on the sides. It has a relatively larger skull and closer set eyes.  In its former range, prey species include serow, tufted deer, sambar, muntjac and wild pigs.

Smaller prey species such as porcupines, hares and fowl form a smaller part of their diet.

Three subspecies have gone extinct since 1950 and all of the remaining subspecies are endangered. The South China tiger is the most endangered.

Panthera tigris Panthera tigris amoyensis

de serow, tufted deer, sambar, muntjac and wild pigs.

By 1987, the remnant population of wild South China tigers was estimated at 30-40 individuals and danger of extinction was imminent. During a survey in 1990, South China tiger signs were found in 11 reserves in the mountains of Sichuan, Guangdong, Hunan, Jiangxi and Fujian Provinces, but this data was insufficient to estimate population size. No tigers were directly observed; evidence was limited to tracks,

scrapings and reported

sightings by local


Although cited as the "World's Favourite Animal" in an Animal Planet survey across 73 countries, tigers in the wild are threatened around the world. It is estimated there were 100,000 in the wild in 1900 but now number about 3,000. Their range once ran through Russia, Siberia, Iran, Afghanistan, India, China and south-east Asia, but now amounts to about 3% of their former habitat.

As the largest member of the felidae family, the tiger is an apex predator species that has been around for millions of years. Tigers are carnivores, preferring to hunt larger prey such as ungulates and wild pig.

Males are significantly larger than females

Unlike cheetahs, tigers are better suited to using ambush and short chases

Unlike other felines, tigers love water

Post-coital play can sometimes get rough

Photo: Gary Verstick

The South China tiger, also known as the 'Chinese' or 'Amoy' tiger', is considered critically endangered by the IUCN. The South China tiger originated in China two million years ago and today's South China tiger is considered a relict population of the "stem" ancestral tiger from which all other subspecies of tiger (Bengal, Siberian, etc) are derived. There are few, if any in the wild, with the last confirmed sighting over two decades ago. There are currently about 100 in captivity - most are in Chinese zoos and breeding centers, the remainder are in the care of Save China's Tigers at Laohu Valley Reserve.

In the early 1950s, the South China tiger was reported to number more than 4,000 individuals in the wild when it became the target of large-scale government 'anti-pest' campaigns. The effects of uncontrolled hunting were compounded by extensive deforestation, reduction in available prey

The South China Tiger

The South China Tiger

The Tiger