The World Wildlife Fund warned on Tuesday that the wild tiger is facing extinction in China after having been decimated by poaching and the destruction of its natural habitat.
Zhu Chunquan, who is the conservation director of biodiversity at the World Wildlife Fund of China told the AFP that "If there are no urgent measures taken, there is a high risk that the wild tiger will go extinct,"
According to Zhu, China's Forestry Administration estimates that only 50 wild tigers are left roaming the country's wilderness.
"Globally, WWF estimates that if poaching and other threats continue, there are around 30 years left until tigers go extinct," he told AFP.
Zhu added that poaching of the animal itself, poaching of the animal's main prey, and the degradation of the Tiger's natural habitat have all helped speed up the extinction process.
The State Forestry Administration says around 20 Siberian tigers roam China's northeast, 20 Bengal tigers remain in Tibet, and 10 Indochinese tigers in the southwest of the nation.
"As for the South China tiger, after the late 1970s, there has been no concrete evidence to show that there are any left," Zhu said. That number is compared to roughly 4,000 that were estimated to exist in 1950.
The WWF says on its website that the tiger is one of the top 10 species to watch in 2010, saying out that there may be just 3,200 of the animals left globally in the wild.
While China has been cracking down on poaching, and selling of tiger bones since 1993, Zhu says stopping the poaching all together is still a difficult task. Zhu has said that if China really wants to slow, or halt the extinction process, China should press hunters to stop killing the tiger's main prey, being wild boars, and deer.
He added that local communities should be encouraged to find alternatives to jobs such as timber harvesting, as this has contributed to destroying habitats that the tigers live in.