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.
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: