PHILIPPOLIS, South Africa, June 13, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Mr. Stuart Bray, Chairman of Save China's Tigers, today announced that three South China tiger cubs have been born at Laohu Valley Reserve, Free State, South Africa. The mother, zoo-born tigress 'Madonna', was transported from China to South Africa in 2004 and then 'rewilded' on the Chinese Tiger Project's 300 km2 reserve.
The cubs were born unobserved in conditions that replicate the free-ranging wildlife reserves in China into which they will later be reintroduced. The South China tiger (Panthera tigris amoyensis) is an iconic symbol in Chinese culture. This brings to 18 the number of South China tigers at Laohu Valley Reserve, or nearly 20% of the world population of this endangered subspecies that is considered the root ancestor of all tigers. The Chinese Tiger Project combines an extremely successful breeding program with an innovative 'rewilding' of captive tigers.
Mr. Bray stated, "The effort to save these highly endangered tigers has taken another step forward with the birth of these cubs and continues to give hope for the South China tiger. There is still much work to be done to save the South China tiger but we are certainly making progress."
The one male and two female South China tiger cubs appear rambunctious, healthy and strong, and have been carefully assessed by a veterinarian and biologists. Project scientist Dr. Maria Fabregas said, "The low mortality rate for cubs born at Laohu Valley Reserve is most likely linked to the natural conditions where they are delivered and raised. This is definitely evidence of the success of the Project as a captive breeding program, and has been a significant contributor to the increased numbers of this subspecies."
The Chinese Tiger Project began in 2002 when Save China's Tigers and the Chinese Tigers South African Trust signed a landmark agreement with China's State Forestry Administration to transfer zoo born tigers from China to Laohu Valley Reserve to breed and be 'rewilded' for later reintroduction to China. Laohu Valley Reserve was established by restoring habitat on former agricultural land and introducing native game species. This is the same process that now needs to be completed in China on a scale large enough to restore the biodiversity necessary to support a genetically viable population of free-ranging tigers. Save China's Tigers and the Chinese Tigers South African Trust continue to work with Chinese authorities in identifying and establishing these large protected reserves in China for the reintroduction of 'rewilded' tigers.
The Project is continuing to enjoy growing support and endorsement by international wildlife scientists and conservation organizations that view the 'rewilding' model as a possible tool to help save other large wild cat and tiger subspecies. The model pioneered by Save China's Tigers at Laohu Valley Reserve offers great hope for several other tiger subspecies that are under threat in the wild, but have healthy captive populations. Save China's Tigers is pleased to be able to showcase the Project and Laohu Valley Reserve as a model for other conservation organizations to protect and even restore tiger populations in Malaysia, Cambodia, and Kazakhstan.
Further inquires can be made to either Save China's Tigers at firstname.lastname@example.org
or Mr. Lu Jun, National Wildlife Research and Development Center of China's State Forestry Administration, email@example.com.