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Office to guide protection of tigers

LI WENFANG
Updated: Mar 10,2015 8:04 AM     China Daily

China is establishing a national office dedicated to the protection of wild tigers.

Preparations are being made for the office, which will be an improvement on the currently fragmented tiger preservation efforts, said Hu Huijian, a researcher of the South China Institute of Endangered Animals.

Dozens of wild Siberian tigers live in northeast China and a similar number of wild Indochinese and Bengal tigers live in the southwest.

Researchers are uncertain whether South China tigers still live in the wild, but there are more than 100 in captivity, Hu said.

The management of the wild tiger species is not unified, with little coordination and exchanges, he said.

The national-level office for tiger protection is expected to facilitate planning for the protection.

Since Siberian, Indochinese and Bengal tigers live in border areas, the office should help with international coordination, he said.

China adopted the Action Plan for Restoration of Wild Tiger Population in 2011 to significantly increase the population and habitat of tigers.

The Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens has a commission for the protection of South China tigers.

Data is collected on each South China tiger, including their daily condition and records of their offspring, leading to improvements in the condition of the species and survival rate in recent years.

Sightings of Siberian tigers have increased in Changbaishan Mountain forest area in Jilin province, from six to nine in the late 1990s to 11 to 13 in recent years, according to the provincial forestry department.

Stuart Bray, chairman of Save China’s Tigers foundation, said: “I have no doubt China will change the face of tiger conservation.”

As a top predator, tigers need a complete ecosystem, which entails stimulating the recovery of the natural vegetation, prey and smaller predators.

Gains have been made in returning milu deer and crested ibis to the wild in China, and there is hope for similar achievements in tiger protection, although this will be more difficult, he said.

Zhai Jiajia contributed to this story.

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