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SCT's Breeding Program
With fewer than 30 Chinese Tigers left in the wild and about 60 Chinese tigers left in Chinese zoos, a critical part of Save China’s Tigers conservation efforts is a breeding program for the South China tiger. To this end, SCT has built the David Tang Tiger Breeding Center at our Laohu Valley reserve in South Africa. The facility is named to honour our patron and principal contributor to the Center: David Tang.
The arrival of ‘Tiger 327’ in May 2007 from the Suzhou zoo near Shanghai signaled the start of the breeding program. The sparkling new facility will provide a comfortable and spacious rendezvous for 327 and his proposed bride ‘Cathay’ as well as a protective environment for their expected offspring. “327” signifies the tiger’s registration number in the ‘Stud Book’ registry of captive tigers. 327 is a handsome four and a half year old male. He arrived very relaxed and placid after enjoying a jumbo jet journey courtesy of Cathay Pacific Airways. He adapted to his new accommodation very fast and was relishing fresh Springbok meat within 48 hours to the amazement of staff. For the first time in his life, the zoo-bred 327 was able to roam the adjoining 0.3 hectare enclosure and it was his first encounter with a different surface other than concrete. To date love seems to be blossoming as 327 has been introduced to a willing and submissive Cathay. If all goes well, it is hoped that mating will take place soon, but we will keep the public informed of any further developments. SCT is hoping to find a generous corporate sponsor to give 327 a name. (Link to latest report).
As it now stands, all the Chinese tigers in Chinese zoos are descended from 6 founding members, wild caught from the 1950’s. Scientists are still unsure as to how genetics really work as six individuals could have more genetic variability than the whole wild population, but it could be also the opposite. So as it stands, there is a lot that we can not answer. Apart from proper management of the remaining populations, we can work on alternative solutions to increase their chances of survival. The Chinese tigers are likely to go extinct unless dramatic action is taken now.
Save China Tigers' Management team consists of a range of experts including the widely respected Brian Boswell and Eddie Van Eche of Lory Park Zoo, who advise Save China's Tigers' team on tiger breeding. A most respected conservation scientist of high integrity, Petri Viljoen, advises the scientific monitoring of the whole program. Ground staff include both South African and Chinese employees.