Steven McDonald reports from the Chinese North Korean border. Siberian tigers once roamed this area in the thousands, but as the forest disappeared so did they.
In 2007, it was estimated that 12 wild tigers remained in China’s northeast. This small gene pool has led to genetic deficiencies. The Associated Press reported the tiger could be extinct in a dozen years if left unprotected.
Individual tigers once roamed over a territory of 50 square kilometers or more, but today there isn’t much forest left to support even a few hundred in the wild.
Today, visiting the Siberian tiger park 37 km north of the city of Harbin is recommended unless you are squeamish since live animals are fed to the tigers.
Big Cat News reports that the tiger park sits on almost 400 acres of land and is one of the largest tiger refuges in the world.
A group of Chinese scientists is attempting to save the Siberian tiger and captive breeding has been successful.
The Harbin Tiger Park has more than four hundred. A sister park has about three hundred. In all of China, there are about 2,000 in captivity.
With such a small population, a DNA database is used to avoid losing genetic diversity. Tigers discovered to have flaws are not allowed to mate.
However, the park has a shortage of money. China’s government provides some funding, but the park relies mostly on tourism and ticket sales. It costs more than four million dollars annually to feed the 700 tigers in the two parks.
Continued on May 21, 2013 in China’s Tiger Farms: Part 2
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.
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