Tigers take training trip to S. Africa
( 2003-08-14 08:51) (China Daily)
Two South China tiger cubs, one female and one male, are scheduled to be sent to South Africa on September 1 for training that can enable them to hunt and live independently in the wild.
It is the first time that South China tigers are being sent to South Africa to receive such training.
The cubs, selected by the Wildlife Research Centre under the State Forestry Administration from the Shanghai Zoo, are now in Beidaihe in Qinhuangdao, North China's Hebei Province, said Lu Jun with the centre, who is in charge of the work.
The South China tiger, also called the China tiger, is a unique species in the country with only about 20 to 30 of them living in the wild - significantly less than the numbers of giant pandas in the wild. There are also another 60 or so China tigers at zoos across the country.
Some experts have warned that the species will die out by 2010 if no measures are taken.
The tiger cubs will be guided at first by South African trainers to hunt wild animals and gradually learn to live by themselves, Lu said.
"South Africa is rich in wildlife resources and trainers there are experienced in training tigers to survive in the wild," he said.
In addition, the place used for such training covers an area as large as 30 square kilometres, and all the animals in the area are indigenous and wild.
In Meihuashan Natural Reserve in Longyan, East China's Fujian Province, where similar efforts are being made, the training area is less than 3 hectares and there are no trainers to guide the tigers, Lu said.
"The results achieved in Meihuashan were very limited," he said. According to Lu, two Bengalese tigers were sent to be trained in South Africa in 2000 and now they can bite an antelope to death within 20 seconds. In 2000, the job usually took them 40 minutes.
The two South China tigers will be sent back to China in 2008 and kept in a reserve, Lu said.
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