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South China Tiger - Panthera tigris amoyensis - Stem Tiger
South China Tiger
South China Tiger

The South China Tiger is the most CRITICALLY ENDANGERED of all of the living tiger subspecies. Considered by many experts as the "Stem" tiger subspecies from which all other tigers may have evolved. The South China Tiger (amoy) distribution ranges throughout the humid forests and grasslands of central and eastern China. Like the Sumatran Tiger, the South China Tiger is also one of the smaller tiger subspecies. Males average 300 - 350 pounds in weight, and females 200 - 250 pounds respectively. In fact, this cat is so rare in the wild that this subspecies has rarely observed by man during recent times. As a result very little is known about its behavioral habits and prey items.

Amoyensis once ranged territory throughout central China. Reports in 1949 estimated that there were more than 4000 South China Tigers. The Chinese government, unfortunately from 1950 - 1960, implemented governmental "Anti-Pest Campaigns" which were responsible for the deaths of more than one thousand animals. By 1982 less then 200 animals were estimated to remain in existence. Today their population numbers are critically endangered and in need of protection, with less than 30 wild South China Tigers in the wild.

South China Tiger

Maximum estimated wild population size varies from 30 to 80 of the subspecies today. South China Tigers are maintained in captive breeding programs with about 50 animals in zoos, all located in China. Unfortunately all of these animals were descendents of only six "Founder Animals". As a result, very limited genetic diversity exists for captive breeding program.


The only hope for saving this regal cat can only be accomplished through an extremely well planned out continuing captive breeding programs. This would require the capture of some wild animals to insure better genetic diversity. The South China Tiger is so very close to the classification of EXTINCT! If the South China tiger is lost to extinction, it would mean that 4 out of the 8 tiger subspecies have been wiped out forever within the last half-century.

Scientific Name: Panthera tigris amoyensis
Range & Habitat: Extremely limited range found in the humid forests and grasslands of central and eastern China.
Average Weight:
  Female: 100kg - 115 kg (221 - 254 lbs)
  Male: 130kg - 175kg (287 - 386 lbs)
Size (Length):
  Female: 2.2m - 2.4m (7'-3" - 7'-11")
  Male: 2.3m - 2.6m (7'-'7" - 8'- 7")
Diet: All tigers are carnivorous. SouthChina prey consists mostly of deer, antelope, wild boar, wild pigs and other hooved mammals (ungulates) native to this region.
Gestation Period: 100-119 Days (Averaging 103 Days)
Cub Maturity: 18 months - 2 Years
Cubs Per Litter: (Usually 2-3 cubs) Cubs are born blind and weigh 2-3 pounds. 18-26 month intervals.
Lifespan: 16-18 Years
Predators: Man. Poaching
Social Structure: Solitary, except during mating season. Male territory may sometimes overlap.
Territory Size: 933km (260 miles)
Population (Wild): 30 in the wild. The South China Tiger is the most critically endangered of remaining five subspecies alive today and they face the very real threat of extinction.
  Captive (SSP): 50 in Zoos primarily in China.
Conservation Status: CITES Appendix 1. (All wildcats are listed on CITES Appendix I or II).

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