South China Tiger – Panthera tigris amoyensis

The South China Tiger features a very vibrant color of orange with black stripes on it. There are also areas of white on the face and on the belly that runs to the insides of the legs as well. This is classified as one of the smallest species of tigers out there. It is also one that is believed to be most threatened by the possibility of extinction. In fact if there aren’t significant changes it will likely be extinct within the next 10 years or less.

In order to help with the population concerns, many of the South China Tigers are being moved to other areas of captivity. So far such efforts have been successful with many cubs born in the last five years that are thriving. However, this animal is now on the top 10 list of endangered animals so that tells you just how much hard work is ahead if they are going to make it.

The smaller size of the South China Tiger has to do with the fact that there are smaller forms of prey for it to consume. A full grown male is approximately 8 feet long and will weight about 330-390 pounds. The females are much smaller at about 7.5 feet long and about 250 pounds. The stripes of this particular tiger are spaced further apart than those of any other species.

South China Tiger - Panthera tigris amoyensis

South China Tiger / Photo taken by J. Patrick Fischer

A great deal of their diet is made up of livestock and wild pigs. This has created issues for them as they are often hunted by those that make a living raising these types of animals. The South China Tiger is very diligent when it comes to stalking their prey. They may wait for hours before they take the opportunity to pounce in it. They want to make sure they have a very good chance of taking down what they want to eat.

They are also known to attack humans due to the large number of them in their natural habitat. In fact, the South China Tiger has been labeled as a man eater by many in our society. A big part of this problem is that the forests where they naturally live continue to be destroyed for other things to be put in their place. This has put these tigers and man in too close of quarters for them.

The number of them began to dwindle in the early 1950’s due to people viewing the tigers as pest. They were killed for their pelts as well as for the bones to use to make medicine in China. Even though such hunting on these tigers was banned in China in 1977 the drastic drop in their numbers by then was already a huge threat to their survival.

Today it is extremely rare that the South China Tiger is even seen in the wild. This makes people worry too that the numbers are much less than they had believed them to be. Others are holding out for the belief that these tigers have found a way to adapt to living conditions deeper into the forests where they aren’t being disturbed by human interruptions.

There are  total of 11 reserves in China today where the remainder of the South China Tigers reside. A few of them are now in zoos in other parts of the world as I mentioned before. However, that practice isn’t one that has been widely proposed as the people of China want to keep them in their native area. They are also doing their best to profile genetic materials so that they can be sure to breed the right South China Tigers with others that aren’t so closely related.