The tiger is a symbol of traditional Chinese culture. The earliest images and statues of tigers appeared in China in the Neolithic.
The South Chinese tiger is a rather "young" subspecies. It was discovered at the beginning of the 19th century in Xiamen (Fujian Province) by American naturalist Harry Caldwell. At that time, in the wild, there were about 4,000 individuals. But now, the Chinese tiger is one of the 10 most endangered animals in China. It was listed as an endangered species in 1981.
The reason for the extinction of the species
In the 1990s, scientists calculated that only 20-30 individuals of the Chinese tiger live in the mountains of South China in the "wild" conditions. Over the past 2 decades, this subspecies has not been seen in the wild. Therefore, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the Chinese tiger can be considered "functionally extinct."
How is it that a species has been virtually destroyed in 100 years?
In the 1950s and 60s, the population of China grew sharply, and most of the mountain forests and wetlands turned into agricultural land. This reduced the space for the peaceful existence of Chinese tigers. Therefore, predators had to get food (livestock, or even people) on agricultural land.
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This "prompted" the population to start a nationwide campaign to destroy tigers. In addition, the body parts of the Chinese tiger were a tidbit for traditional Chinese medicine. And the skin was (and still is) a fortune. Therefore, predators were massively hunted, and for 50-60 years, thousands of Chinese tigers were exterminated throughout China.
This situation led to the fact that in 1979 the Chinese government forbade hunting and killing tigers. Unfortunately, this ban was no longer able to rectify the situation.
Interesting! In the 1950s, 6 Chinese tigers were caught. It is their descendants who are now bred in reserves in order to rejuvenate the population. However, this is not so easy to do, since there is no more “fresh blood” coming in, and all the descended descendants mate with each other.
In China, there are currently 4 protected zones for rare species of animals - in the provinces of Jiangxi, Guangdong, Hunan and Fujian. A security zone in Fujian Province (on Meihua Mountain) was established in 1998. And there were bred more than 20 Chinese tigers that are kept in the wild. And, perhaps someday, they will be able to return to the mountains, to their natural habitat.
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The habits, appearance and characteristics of the Chinese tiger
The Chinese tiger used to live mainly in tropical rain forests and evergreen broad-leaved forests, in vast mountainous areas in southern China.
Despite the fact that this species was discovered only 100 years ago, it is believed that it was from the South China tiger that all other subspecies originated.
The Chinese tiger has a round head, short ears, thick and powerful limbs, a long tail and stripes throughout the body and head. The color of the coat is rich and deep. The chest and abdomen are milky white, and the rest of the body is orange. The black stripes have a distance between themselves greater than that of the Bengal and Siberian tigers.
Interesting! The Chinese tiger is the second “from the end” among the smallest tigers. He is second only to the Sumatran tiger. An adult male is about 2.5 meters long from head to tail, and weighs about 50 kg. And the female is about 2.3 meters in length and almost 100 kg of weight.
A few fascinating facts about the South Chinese form:
- small growth of individuals of the subspecies allows them to move faster and easier through dense forests than larger species;
- South Chinese tigers like to hunt large mammals - deer, wild boars, cattle;
- the hunting style of these animals combines patience, speed and time - they usually hide in tall grass and survive the opportunity to attack;
- these tigers can hunt both on land and in water;
- at birth, Chinese cubs are blind and weigh only 1 kg (which is 3 times less than a human child);
- tiger cubs remain with the tigress for up to 18 months (when the weight reaches already 40-50 kg), gaining strength and learning hunting skills;
- the stripes of the Chinese tiger are unique, like human fingerprints, and from them one predator can be distinguished from another;
- South Chinese individuals love to live and hunt alone, not in groups;
- they lead a nocturnal lifestyle — they rest during the day, and hunt at night;
- according to Chinese legends, the habitat of the tiger can be identified by special traces in the deep grass - when the animal lies and rests, its thick tail sways from side to side, crushing grass in a special way.
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Due to the power and strength of the Chinese tiger, it has no rivals in the wild. Therefore, only a person poses a real threat to life ....