The population of wild Chinese tigers is set for a boost after the Wildlife Research Center of China's State Forestry Administration agreed to work with two foreign organizations on conservation projects.
The center has signed an agreement with the London-based Save China's Tigers and Chinese Tigers South Africa of South Africa on the reintroduction of Chinese Tigers into the wild.
The agreement is the result of cooperation between the Chinese tiger-protection body and international organizations in this field.
Since 1990, the State Forestry Administration has been leading the effort to save the most critically endangered tiger sub-species, the Chinese Tiger (panthera tigris amoyensis), from which all other tiger sub-species evolved, through the establishment of nature reserves, said Lu Jun, a scientist with the Wildlife Research Center.
Fewer than 30 Chinese Tigers are left in the wild while about 60 survive in Chinese zoos.
The agreement calls for the establishment of a Chinese Tiger conservation scheme, with a pilot reserve in China and South African reserve management expertise, where indigenous animals will be prepared to re-enter the wild.
Conservation of the Chinese Tiger, which will be the scheme's flagship project, will be combined with China's unique cultural heritage to create opportunities in eco-trourism for local economic development.
Selected captive Chinese Tiger cubs will be sent to South Africa, where they will be trained to hunt effectively in a special area. "China currently is not able to help the cubs regain hunting skills," Lu Jun said.
To maximize the possibility of success, this rehabilitation project will be conducted in parallel with the on-going Meihuashan Chinese Tiger Rehabilitation project in Fujian Province, south China.
According to the agreement, the first rehabilitated Chinese Tigers are expected to be reintroduced into the wild in 2008, coinciding with the Olympic Games in Beijing.
(Xinhua News Agency December 7, 2002)