Date of Award
Honors Thesis (Colby Access Only)
Colby College. Environmental Studies Program
Philip J. Nyhus
F. Russell Cole
Travis W. Reynolds
The South China tiger (Panthera tigris amoyensis) is a critically endangered subspecies native to China. The Chinese government has expressed interest in reintroducing the tiger. I conducted a three-component study to assess a potential reintroduction project. First, I completed a literature review on reintroductions globally assessing large carnivore reintroductions through the broad categories of biological and technical, organizational, and socioeconomic factors. To learn about the attitudes of conservation professionals toward a possible reintroduction of the South China tiger and experiences in large carnivore conservation, I designed and sent out a survey to selected members in the international conservation community. Among the 68 respondents, a majority supported a potential South China tiger reintroduction. Respondents cited China’s capacity to plan and implement the project, the cultural significance of tigers, and the potential positive impact on future conservation, while recognizing challenges in finding suitable habitats, appropriate founder stocks, and enforcement of laws and regulations. Second, I used Geographic Information Systems to assess habitat suitability of critical prey species to guide a potential tiger reintroduction. I used habitat suitability index for wild boar and Sika deer as a plausible proxy for tiger habitat suitability in Hupingshan and Houhe National Nature Reserves. My habitat suitability models identified a range of possible suitable sites and estimated prey carrying capacity based on different scenarios. My models suggest that major habitat and prey base restoration is needed before reintroduction efforts. Finally, I used the VORTEX to simulate the influence of different initial population sizes, carrying capacity, and supplementation on the reintroduced tiger population over 100 years. Supplementation was found to have a crucial impact on tiger population viability. The option of genetic augmentation from closely related taxa should be explored to improve persistence of a reintroduced tiger population.
south china tiger, reintroducing
Recommended CitationQin, Yiyuan, "Reintroduction of the South China Tiger: Lessons, Assessments, and Implications" (2012). Honors Theses. Paper 649.
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