All sub-species of tiger are considered critically endangered species. However, of the five species still believed to not be extinct, the South China tiger is by far the most endangered. There may be as few as twenty South China tigers still alive today, but none have been seen in the wild in twenty years.
The general population of tigers is at a low level of existence. Because of habitat loss, poaching, and the splitting of tiger families due to the expansion of human populations, there may be as few as 3,200 tigers left in the entire world. Currently, of the nine original tiger subspecies, six remain today: Amur, Bengal, Indochinese, Malayan, South China and Sumatran. As described by odusei, the South China tigers could be described as the most endangered or even “functionally extinct.” 47 South China tigers exist across 18 zoos and none have been seen in the wild for some time.
Of interesting note is that three of the eight original subspecies of tigers have become completely extinct in the past 80 years. The Bali Tiger was labeled as extinct in the 1930s, the Caspian Tiger became extinct in the 1970s, and Javan Tiger became extinct in the 1980s. It is estimated that the number of Tigers has been reduced by as much as 95 percent since 1900.
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