"It’s just a matter of time that wild South China tigers will die out," said Wang Xingjin, director of the Research Centre of Guangzhou Zoo.
Only 68 south China tigers remained in 18 zoos across China, said zoologist Huang Zhihong. Those tigers were descended from two male and four female tigers caught in 1950s and 1970s and are all closely related, he said.
"If we can’t find any wild south China tigers, they will certainly disappear because of the in-breeding," said Huang.
The south China tiger, from which other sub-species such as the Siberian Tiger evolved, has been listed as one of the world’s 10 most endangered animals.