The controversy over the authenticity of photographs of the believed-to-be-extinct wild South China tiger seemed to have come to an end on Friday when a netizen posted online what he claimed was a "convincing proof" that the pictures are fakes - a New Year picture of a tiger that hangs on the wall of his home.
The man, named "panzhihua-xydz", said: "It's the same picture. Even the stripes are identical".
He left an online message that he bought the picture last year, but did not specify the date.
The discovery has encouraged skeptics who have always believed the pictures were a hoax for financial gain.
When contacted by reporters, Zhou Zhenglong, the farmer in Shaanxi Province who claimed to be the photographer of the tiger, refused to comment, according to Sina.com.
The photograph, purporting to be the first sighting of a South China tiger for more than 30 years, aroused intense interest among scientists and scholars, after it was released on October 12.
The photo was chosen from 71 reportedly taken by Zhou in early October in Zhenping county, Shaanxi Province.
There are doubts over its veracity and suggestions that digital technology may have been used to enhance the image.
(China Daily November 19, 2007)