Two South China tiger cubs are resting, Luoyang City, Mar. 30, 2005. [Xinhua Photo]
At the ongoing national conference on South China tiger protection in Henan's Luoyang City, some experts suggest adopting gene therapy to save South China tigers from extinction.
There are few pure bred South China tigers in China at present. Since most South China tigers have gene of Indo-Chinese Tiger, scientists may well introduce the gene of Indo-Chinese tigers and increase the number of South China tigers.
South China tigers live in the south, east, south central and southwest China. Their average life span is 20 years. South China tiger, a unique tiger subspecies of China, is under the first-grade state protection. It is on top of the list of the world's top 10 most critically endangered animals and faces more threats of extinction than the "national treasure" panda.
Owing to close breeding, South China tigers have lower fertility rate. At present, there are three ways to save South China tigers from extinction.
First, to search for wild South China tigers to mate with stable bred ones. The problem is, China has not reported any discovery of wild South China tigers since 1980 and there is little hope of success.
Second, to establish a national propagation center and selectively mate stable bred South China tigers. This is unlikely to alter the current situation of close breeding.
Third, to introduce the gene of Indo-Chinese tigers through very strict heredity control modes to help increase the number of South China tigers, since they already have gene of Indo-Chinese tigers. The mountain lions in Florida were saved from extinction thanks to introduction of gene of mountain lions from Texas.