The South China Tiger has been listed as critically endangered by the IUNC list since 1996. They were considered ‘pests’ by the Chinese government and with no hunting ban in place the tigers were nearly hunted to extinction. No official or biologist has seen a wild South China tiger since the early 1970s which is when the last remaining tiger was captured and placed in captivity. It is thought to be extinct in the wild. There are approximately 100 South China Tigers left and all are living in captivity.
In October 2000, the UK charity, Save China’s Tigers, was established to try and re-wild some of the captive-bred tigers left in China’s zoo’s, Save China’s Tigers want to train as many remaining captive South China Tigers how to hunt and take care of them self in the wild. Because Africa has a high success rate of re-wilding Lions, Save China’s Tigers decided Africa would be the perfect location to launch their Chinese Tiger Reintroduction project. They bought land (33,000 hectares of land) which is now called the Laohu Valley Reserve and recruited the right people to launch their new project.
Accomplishments the project has achieved so far:
In 2003, the first two tiger cubs ‘Cathay and Hope’ were shipped to Africa and by 2004 they caught their first Antelope. October 2004, another two Chinese tiger cubs “TigerWoods” and “Madonna” left China for South Africa to be rewilded at Laohu Valley Reserve and again a year later they caught their first guinea fowl, a year later they were catching blesbok.
In 2007, a new male called No. 327 in the studbook was translocated from Suzhou Zoo of Jiangsu Province of China to Laohu Valley Reserve in South Africa, to supplement the breeding program.
In 2008, Madonna gave birth to a second litter of cubs, a male, and a female. She reared them on her own in a completely natural environment. Madonna was now making a kill every second day.
In 2011, Cathay gave birth to two more tiger cubs sired by 327. The number of South China tigers at Laohu Valley Reserve totaled 12.
In 2012, Princess, a 2nd generation South China tiger born in wild conditions at Laohu Valley Reserve, gave birth to the first 3rd generation South China tiger cub. The father of the cub was Hulooo, the first South China tiger born in South Africa.
February 2014, Madonna had triplets, two females, and one male, and the number of South China tigers at Laohu Valley Reserve now totals 18.
Introducing South China Tigers Back Into The Wild:
Today no tigers have been released back into the wild in South China. It is very important when releasing any animal back into the wild that they are released into an area sustainable for their survival, this can be critical, it must have the right terrain, prey, protection against poachers etc. The Government of China and international researchers have identified Hupingshan and Houhe National Nature Reserves as one potential release site. The global tiger conservation community has recently announced they want to double the number of tigers in the wild by 2022 this will include the South China Tiger.