China Says It Has Only 50 Wild Tigers Left

China’s own wildlife officials estimate that only 50 tigers survive within its borders, Xinhua News reports. And those shockingly low numbers include four subspecies. The World Wildlife Fund figures they’ll go extinct within 30 years, an estimate which seems optimistic. The IUCN range maps show that tigers are doing much better outside China, sometimes just outside its borders.

China’s State Forestry Administration (SFA) says only 20 Siberian tigers remain in China’s northeast, 20 Bengal tigers in Tibet, and 10 Indochinese tigers in the southwest. And you can pretty much forget about the South China tiger. Zhu Chunquan, conservation director of biodiversity at WWF China, told AFP: “After the late 1970s, there has been no concrete evidence to show that there are any left.”

Siberian Tiger (Pantera tigris ssp. altaic) : endangered (20 in China)

What’s weird here is that there’s a Siberian Tiger Breeding Center in Harbin, capital of northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province, that brags that it’s bred 1,000 cats (some pictured here).

The center combines breeding and tourism, but has come under fire for animal cruelty. Specifically, it got in trouble for feeding the tigers live cows and sheep. That wouldn’t be bad if they were training tigers to hunt in the wild, but the videos show it’s more to make a buck off tourists. The bigger the animal killed, the more the tourist pays. Tourists on this video paid $60 (1,500 renminbi) to see a sheep slaughtered, not splurging $180 to witness a cow

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Siberian Tiger Disappearing But At Least Putin’s Cat is Okay

Just when news is breaking that Chinese poachers are wiping out 10-16% of the critically endangered Siberian tiger population each year, Vladmir Putin’s tiger went missing. Russians had grown to love (or at least geographically track) this female tiger through Putin’s tiger website. But her collar hadn’t pinged in three months, exciting worries of poachers, who are wiping out tigers worldwide. The Siberian tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) is in special trouble from  poachers who use tiger parts for traditional medicine.

But, Putin’s spokesman announced, the only thing that died were the batteries in her collar. She’s fine and so is a cub she had recently. 

Which of Putin’s tigers is this? It’s hard to keep track since Putin has a special relationship with (at least) two tigers. This is the 5-year-old female one he shot with a tranquilizer dart last summer while touring the Usuri Reserve. The other one was a two-month old tiger he got as birthday present.

The first incident with this tiger — it apparently escaped from trap just as Putin approached, was hit by another dart, but not felled till Putin shot her again — prompted speculation that it was a dramatic stunt to show off Putin’s toughness. But no one questions his fondness for tigers, which he sees as a symbol of Russia. While this tiger slept he talked gently with her, shook her paw and then said good-bye by kissing her on the forehead.

It’s certainly good news for the tigers to have

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