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South China Tiger


  • Status
    Critically Endangered
  • Population
    believed to be extinct in the wild
  • Scientific Name
    Panthera tigris amoyensis
  • Habitats
    Southeast China-Hainan Moist Forests

The South China tiger population was estimated to number 4,000 individuals in the early 1950s. In the next few decades, thousands were killed as the subspecies was hunted as a pest. The Chinese government banned hunting in 1979. By 1996 the population was estimated to be just 30-80 individuals.

Today the South China tiger is considered by scientists to be “functionally extinct,” as it has not been sighted in the wild for more than 25 years.

How nations are uniting to double the world's tigers

Bringing tigers back from the brink takes commitment on a global scale. Faced with this challenge, tiger range countries took a stand and set an ambitious species conservation goal: double the number of wild tigers by 2022—the next Year of the Tiger. The goal is called Tx2.

tiger in grass

Why They Matter

  • South China tigers are a reminder that the threat against the world’s tiger is an urgent one. Today, South China tigers are found in zoos and in South Africa where there are plans to reintroduce captive-bred tigers back into the wild.


  • Population believed to be extinct in the wild
  • Extinction Risk Critically Endangered
    1. EX

      No reasonable doubt that the last individual has died

    2. EW
      Extinct in the Wild

      Known only to survive in cultivation, in captivity or as a naturalised population

    3. CR
      Critically Endangered

      Facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the Wild

    4. EN

      Facing a high risk of extinction in the Wild

    5. VU

      Facing a high risk of extinction in the Wild

    6. NT
      Near Threatened

      Likely to qualify for a threatened category in the near future

    7. LC
      Least Concern

      Does not qualify for Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable, or Near Threatened

Hunted as Pests

Although China outlawed tiger hunting in 1979 and declared the South China tiger's survival a conservation priority in 1995, it is thought that even if a few individuals remain, no existing protected areas or habitat are sufficiently large, healthy or undisturbed enough to sustain viable tiger populations.

Habitat in Pieces

If any South China tigers remain in the wild, these few individuals would be found in montane sub-tropical evergreen forest of southeast China, close to provincial borders. The habitat is highly fragmented, with most blocks smaller than 200 square miles and not large enough to sustain a tiger population.