Following decades of extermination as a pest, the South China tiger has not been sighted in the wild for more than 25 years. Many scientists believe the subspecies is “functionally extinct”. A few individuals may remain, but hope for their survival is slim as there is neither adequate habitat nor prey left.
Its habitat in bits and pieces
If there are any South China tigers 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 500 km².
Once officially hunted as a pest
Approximately 3,000 tigers were killed over 30 years as the subspecies was officially hunted as a pest. The Chinese government banned hunting in 1979, but by 1996 the population was estimated to be just 30-80 individuals.
The subspecies has not been sighted in the wild for more than 25 years, and is believed by many scientists to be “functionally extinct”.
A few individuals may remain in the moist forests of southeast China, but the wild population is not thought to be viable.