One hundred years ago there were nine subspecies of tiger. Three subspecies are now extinct:
the Bali, Javan and Caspian tigers.

The remaining six subspecies are the Siberian, Bengal, Sumatran, Malaysian, Indo-Chinese and the South China tiger, all of which are threatened, the Sumatran and South China tigers are critically endangered.

The Chinese tiger (commonly known as South China Tiger or Panthera tigris amoyensis) is the most endangered of the six remaining subspecies of tiger and it is believed to be the origin of all the tiger subspecies. In the early 1950s, there were 4,000 tigers in China. Due to elimination by humans and habitat destruction, there are less than one hundred left on earth today. None has been seen in the wild for 25 years.

The Chinese Tiger used to be a plains animal, living all over central and south China, but has been pushed out by humans throughout the past few thousand years and slowly retreated to more remote and mountainous areas south of the Yangtze River. It is a highly adaptable tiger and managed its prosperous existence until humans took over their last bit of land - the mountains.

"Save China's Tigers"- a UK and Hong Kong based charity founded in 2000 by Beijing born Li Quan and her American investment-banker husband Stuart Bray, is the only charity in the world outside China with a mission to save the Chinese Tiger from extinction.

In October 2000, following months of planning, Save China's Tigers was launched in the Chinese embassy in London, UK. Subsequently, the foundation was registered in Hong Kong.

The charity's aim is to raise awareness of the plight of the Chinese tiger and to strive for its protection and preservation through public education, introduction and experimentation of advanced conservation models in China, and raising funds to support these initiatives. We also aim to act as a liaison for all those organisations concerned with the conservation of China's wildlife and habitat.

Advisors for Save China's Tigers include Dr Gary Koehler, Wildlife biologist at Washington State government, Zhongxiang Zhao, anchor for China's Man & Nature TV programme. Appeal Patrons include Jackie Chan the International Film Star as our Ambassador; Kaige Chen-one of China's top film directors; Michelle Yeoh, internationally known actress, Damien Aspinall - owner of Howletts and Port Lympne Wild Animal Parks, Nick Rhodes of the pop group Duran Duran, Sir David Tang - owner of the China Club and founder of the fashion brand Shanghai Tang and Lewis Moody of Leicester Tigers.

Reintroduction in China

Save China's Tigers has taken on an ambitious project to reverse the fate of the South China Tiger from the border of extinction by taking them out of zoos, breeding them, letting them regain their hunting abilities and reintroducing them back to China's wild. The Chinese Tiger Reintroduction Project is composed of two main subprojects: firstly the Chinese Tiger Rewilding Programme and secondly the Chinese Tiger Pilot Reintroduction Reserve in China.

In November 2002 in Beijing, Save China's Tigers facilitated the Chinese Tiger Reintroduction Co-operation Agreement between the Wildlife Research Centre of the State Forestry Administration of China and the Chinese Tigers South Africa Trust (The Trust was created as an operation arm for Save China's Tigers to implement its conservation plans).

The agreement is a first for the Chinese government and their conservation initiatives, where they are drawing skills and experience from scientists from southern Africa who have worked successfully in bringing several species back from the brink of extinction, building these populations into viable entities so that they can be returned to their previous rangeland to complete the biomes over which they reigned.

China's State Forestry Administration (SFA) should be commended for the extraordinary efforts they are making to save this tiger species through this large scale, co-ordinated reintroduction effort. In choosing South Africa, they have chosen a region of the world that has succeeded both scientifically and economically, by protecting large tracts of biodiversity land while benefiting from an extensive network of ecotourism operations.

The agreement calls for the establishment of a Chinese Tiger Conservation model in which a Pilot Reserve in China is established using African reserve management expertise, where indigenous Chinese wildlife will be reintroduced into rehabilitated indigenous habitat with the Chinese Tiger serving as the flagship species. Conservation efforts of the Chinese Tiger will be enhanced by local economic development as well as aspects of unique Chinese cultural heritage that will help to create a holistic eco-tourism experience.

Save China Tigers' Tiger management team consists of a range of experts. The Tiger Rewilding program is headed by renowned conservationist and Carnivore manager with over 15 years of experience at Pilansburg National Park, Gus Van Dyk. Brian Boswell advises Save China's Tigers' team on tiger breeding. A most respected conservation scientist of high integrity, Petri Viljoen, heads the scientific monitoring of the whole program. Ground staff include both South African and Chinese employees.

On September 2nd, two zoo born Chinese Tiger cubs (Cathay, female and Hope, male) arrived from China to South Africa and have been training in Save China's Tigers' Rewilding facilities. In October 2004 two more Chinese Tiger cubs - TigerWoods and Madonna, were transported from China to South Africa to join Cathay and Hope in the Rewilding project.

Save China's Tigers Foundation has secured 33,000 hectares (300 square km) of land for this unprecedented scientific and historic project in Philippolis and established the Chinese Tiger Rewilding Center at Laohu Valley Reserve. Laohu Valley Reserve (Laohu means Old Tiger in Chinese) was formed from 17 now defunct sheep farms and is approximately 33 000 ha in size spanning both sides of the Orange River between the Free State and Northern Cape Province. On July 25th 2004, Cathay and Hope killed their first bushbuck. They have made satisfactory progress so far, have stop fearing live animals, learned the link between hunting and eating prey, as well as becoming quite efficient in tackling mid-sized prey animals. On March 12, 2005, they become the first radio collared Chinese Tigers.

Following the translocation of Cathay and Hope, Save China's Tigers and the Wildlife Research and Development Center of the State Forestry Administration of China organized the team of Save China's Tigers' South African and Chinese experts to survey ten proposed Chinese Tiger candidate reintroduction sites in four provinces. The first team arrived in Chongqing City, China on November 1st, 2003 and the expedition lasted a month in Sichuan, Hunan, Jiangxi and Fujian province. SCT's South African team is headed by Dr. Jeremy Anderson who was the first director of Pilansburg National Park. A second survey trip was completed in February/March 2004 to do an economical evaluation of candidate sites in Jiangxi and Hunan Provinces by a team composed of SA's top resource economist and SA government conservation officials. Restoration of the habitat will take place under the guidance of Save China's Tigers' SA experts before prey animals and other predators are introduced in the Pilot reserve(s), in preparation for the Chinese tigers' return from South Africa. Those Chinese Tigers that will have successfully regained hunting skills and are able to survive independently in the wild in South Africa will reintroduced back to China to the first Chinese Tiger Pilot Reserve(s).

Save China's Tigers is proud to have many committed volunteers helping our cause. The founders have contributed financially for the setting up of the Chinese Tiger projects, wanting to show to other potential donors and sponsors their personal commitment to the project. Cathay Pacific Airways has generously sponsored the Chinese Tigers' transportation till 2008. Asian Tigers, a removal company based in HK has also committed to support the Chinese tiger project by donating funds starting from 2004. More companies are working with SCT on joint projects. Many members of the public are helping us through donating on our website. Save China's Tigers is grateful to all these supporters and is now appealing for more support from the general public. The fate of the Chinese Tigers lies in our hands...

Photos and videos © Save China's Tigers UK Charity No.1082216