From: Reuters
Published October 12, 2007 02:39 PM

Endangered China tiger caught on camera after 30 years

BEIJING (Reuters) - A South China tiger has been caught on camera by a hunter-turned-farmer, the first confirmed sighting for 30 years of a sub-species experts had feared was extinct in the wild, the Xinhua news agency said on Friday.

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Zhou Zhenglong took over 70 snaps of the young tiger lying in the grass near a cliff in a mountainous part of central China. Experts confirmed the images showed one of the elusive cats.

Villagers from his home area had reported several sightings of the tigers, paw-prints and droppings, but none had been confirmed for decades, the official news agency said.

"There has been no record of the survival of wild south China tigers in more than 30 years, and it was only an estimate that China still had 20 to 30 such wild tigers," Xinhua quoted Lu Xirong, head of a South China tiger research team saying.

In the early 1950s an estimated 4,000 of the tiger subspecies, one of the world's smallest and the only one native to central and southern China, roamed the country, but its habitat has been squeezed by the country's rapid economic growth.

The Forestry Department of Shaanxi province, where the tiger was sighted, plans to set up a special protection area for them, Xinhua said.

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