The Chinese Tiger

The South China Tiger (aka Panthera tigris amoyensis), is also known as the Chinese, Amoy, or Xiamen tiger. It is the most endangered tiger in the world and only about 100 survive in captivity.  The Chinese Tiger originated in China two million years ago and is commonly believed to be the ancestral tiger from which all other subspecies of tiger are descended.


The South China Tiger is believed to have a more archaic skull, whose ratio of the length and width is relatively larger than other tiger subspecies. Its body is slim with a slender waist. It is distinguishable from other tiger subspecies by its narrower face, longer nose, more intense orange color, short fur, longer legs, and shorter & broader stripes which are spaced far apart compared with those of Bengal and Siberian tigers. Based on the researches of felidae zoologist V. Mazak, the South China Tiger hs the least number of stripes of all subspecies. 


A male Chinese tiger measures from 230 to 265 cm (91 to 104 inches) straight-line, and weighs 130 to 175 kg (290 to 390 lbs).  Females are smaller and measure 220 to 240 cm (87 to 94 inches) and weigh 110 to 115 kg (240 to 250 lbs).  Greatest length of skull in males is 318 to 343 mm (12.5 to 13.5 inches), and in females 273 to 301 mm (10.7 to 11.9 inches).


In the 1950's the South China tiger as well as leopards and wolves were eliminated as pests, which posed danger to the livestock of farmers and villagers.  Consequently the wild population of the South China Tiger fell from more than 4,000 to less than 200 by 1982. The Chinese government then banned hunting in 1977, but many organizations declared it extinct in the wild by the 1990s.


Other Tiger Subspecies

Some experts classified the tiger into nine subspecies while others believe a tiger is a tiger is a tiger. What distinguishes one from another is purely national boundaries. Traditionally, these were the tiger subspecies:


  • Amur Tiger (aka Panthera tigris altaica), is also known as Siberian, Manchurian or North China tiger, depending on the language and the country. It is normally found in far eastern Siberia, north-east of China. Only a few hundred of them survive in the wild.


  • Bengal Tiger (aka Panthera tigris tigris) is also named the Indian tiger and is usually found in India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan. About 1700 of these big cats remain.


  • Caspian Tiger or Persian tiger (Panthera tigris virgata) was also called Xingjiang tiger. Its ranged covered Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkey, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Caucasus, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekist anuntil it apparently became extinct in the 1970s. Most recently however scientists found that the Caspian tiger is genetically identical to the Siberian tiger.


  • Indochinese Tiger (aka Panthera tigris corbetti) is found in Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam.


  • Malayan Tiger (aka Panthera tigris jacksoni) is a newly classified subspecies of tiger and only ound in the Malay Peninsula.


  • Javan Tiger (aka Panthera tigris sondaica) used to exist in the Indonesian island of Java but believed to be extinct since the 1980s.


  • Sumatran Tiger (aka Panthera tigris sumatrae) still exists in the island of Sumatra but only a few hundred are left.


  • Bali Tiger or Balinese Tiger (aka Panthera tigris balica), was the smallest of all tiger sub-species. It was declared extinct in 1937. 
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