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Tigers in wild face risk of extinction

[ 2010-01-19 13:35]     字号 [] [] []  
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Wild tigers in the country face the danger of extinction in about three decades if loss of habitats and illegal trade continue, the World Wide Fund for Nature has warned.

"If urgent and proper measures are not taken, there is a risk that wild tigers will no longer be found on Chinese territory," the WWF China Program Office told China Daily yesterday.

The warning came as the country marks the Year of the Tiger next month. The animal tops the World Wide Fund for Nature’s list of "10 to Watch in 2010", followed by polar bears, pandas and rhinos.

The tiger is believed to be native to China, evolving into eight subspecies.

But the country now has only about 50 wild tigers - in four subspecies - China's State Forestry Administration told China Daily.

South China tigers are believed to be extinct in the wild. The species has not been sighted for more than 25 years, according to WWF.

The country is left with 20 Siberian tigers, 10 to 20 Bengal tigers and 10 Indochinese tigers.

The number is a sharp decline from only half a century ago. The South China tiger numbered about 4,000 in the 1950s, and there were 200 Siberian tigers in the 1960s.

The plight of wild tigers in the country mirrors the situation in the rest of the world. New studies indicate that there may be as few as 3,200 tigers left in the wild, according to WWF.

Tigers occupy less than 7 percent of their original habitat, which has decreased by 40 percent over the past decade.

As an umbrella species in the ecosystem, the tiger is crucial because it controls the population of herbivores and preserves the balance of forests and grasslands.

The loss of habitats and rampant poaching of tigers and their prey - mostly for illegal trade of traditional Chinese medicine - have contributed to the drastic decline of the wild tiger population in the country.

China has banned trade in all tiger derivatives since 1993. But China has faced pressure from neighboring countries to not lift the ban because of entreaties from tiger farms.

Animal welfare organizations have criticized China for the rising number of captive-bred tigers in recent years as having limited effect in protecting tigers in the wild.

Around 9,000 tigers are raised in farms worldwide, of which China has about 5,000.


1. What has happened to Siberian tigers in China in the last 50 years?

2. What has happened to their habitat?

3. What does Chinese medicine have to do with the declining number of tigers?


1. Their numbers have declined from about 4,000 in the 1950s to about 20 today.

2. Their natural habitat has decreased by more than 40 percent in recent years.

3. Killing tigers to use in traditional Chinese medicines, which is now illegal, has contributed to the decline of the wild tiger population in China.


(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Tigers in wild face risk of extinction

About the broadcaster:

Tigers in wild face risk of extinction

Renee Haines is an editor and broadcaster at China Daily. Renee has more than 15 years of experience as a newspaper editor, radio station anchor and news director, news-wire service reporter and bureau chief, magazine writer, book editor and website consultant. She came to China from the United States.