Wednesday, October 17, 2007

South China Tiger seen again in the wild

The South China tiger, Panthera tigris amoyensis, has not been seen in the wild in over 20 years. There were an estimated 4,000 prowling the forests and mountains 50 years ago - today, there are 68, all in zoos. The subspecies was the victim of development and poaching for the value of its body parts in traditional medicines.
Or so it was thought. A farmer in northwestern China reported seeing the animal two weeks ago, and experts have confirmed the authenticity of the resulting photographs (it's not clear from the AP report whether the farmer took the pictures or officials he talked to came out and got them). It's still unknown whether there is a stable wild population, but even the single sighting is a rare piece of good news for tiger conservationists.

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