The farmer found guilty of faking photographs of an endangered tiger was returning home after a court handed down a suspended sentence as a result of appeal.
Zhou Zhenglong, who had been in custody for two months, left Xunyang County Detention Center, Shaanxi Province, at about 11 a.m. Tuesday for home.
"I'm so happy to be able to return home," said Zhou.
It will takes him about five hours to get home to Zhenping County.
Zhou was sentenced on Monday night to two and a half years in prison with a three-year reprieve by a court of justice in Shaanxi.
"I want to thank the court for giving me a lighter sentence," the farmer said in court Monday night.
In the next three years, he will be under police supervision.
The Intermediate People's Court of Ankang City also fined Zhou Zhenglong 2,000 yuan (about 292 U.S. dollars) for fraud and illegally owning 93 military bullets.
The court also ordered him to return a 20,000-yuan reward to the provincial forestry department.
The court said Zhou's motive was to swindle the reward and he was clear that individuals were forbidden to own ammunition. But the court handed down a lighter sentence because he confessed his crimes.
Zhou was initially sentenced on September 27 at the People's Court in Xunyang County. According to the first ruling, the 54-year-old was given two and a half years in prison, a 2,000 yuan fine and was ordered to return the reward.
Zhou appealed the ruling on Oct. 8.
Zhou faked pictures of a South China tiger last year. It is a subspecies that is believed extinct in the wild in China.
The provincial forestry department announced Zhou's "discovery" to the public in October 2007, and gave him a 20,000-yuan reward.
Doubts mounted on the Internet after netizens found an old Lunar New Year poster showing a tiger that looked exactly the same as Zhou's photo.