JOHANNESBURG, July 10 (Xinhua) -- The progress made in the South China Tigers re-wilding project in South Africa was warmly welcomed at the 4th International Wildlife Management Congress (IWMC), Save China's Tigers founder Li Quan told Xinhua by telephone on Tuesday afternoon.
"It is the most important report on protecting the wildlife at the conference which started in the eastern South African port city of Durban on Monday, with the Save China's Tigers team on Tuesday morning introducing its achievements in breeding, re- wilding of the South China Tigers and habitat restoration in its Laohu Valley reserve in South Africa," the congress delegate Li Quan said.
It is the first time for Africa to host the international wildlife management congress, attended by close to 1,000 delegates around the world.
Li Quan said it is also the first time for Save China's Tigers to introduce the successful experience in the South China Tigers re-wilding project in South Africa at the IWMC, receiving the warm applause from the delegates across the world as her team finished their reports.
"Wildlife experts praised Save China's Tigers for bravely doing what the others dared not to do, making an unprecedented effort to save the endangered wildlife through the new model of re-wilding the Chinese tigers," she told Xinhua.
Save China's Tigers, founded in 2000 by Li Quan, is an international charitable foundation based in Hong Kong, the U.S. and the UK, aimed to save the endangered South China Tigers from extinction.
South Africa is the heaven of wildlife due to its friendly environment. "In 2002, the Laohu Valley reserve was established in the central South African province of the Free State by Save China' s Tigers as a platform for the world' most ambitious tiger re-wilding and reintroduction project," she said in her speech.
"It would be a last-ditch effort to save the South China Tiger from extinction," she said at the conference.
The South China Tiger has been classified as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) since 1996 as it is possibly extinct in the wild.
It was reported no official or biologist has seen a wild South China Tiger since the 1970s.
Li Quan said there are probably no more than 30 individuals in the wild, while the captive population of the South China Tigers in Chinese zoos is about 100.
"Two pairs of tiger cubs and an adult tiger were transported from the zoos in China between 2003 and 2007 for re-wilding and breeding in the Laohu Valley reserve."
"The success has been made in the South China Tiger re-wilding project in recent years," Li Quan told Xinhua.
Six tigers were born in the Laohu Valley reserve in 2011, while five cubs were delivered between 2007 and 2008, with a total of eleven born in South Africa.
"The number of the South China Tigers in the Laohu Valley reserve has increased from four in 2004 to 14 by 2011," said Li Quan.
Li Quan said after receiving the re-wilding training the South China Tigers in the reserve are able to hunt for themselves.
"Some foremost feline biologists in the world believe the Laohu Valley reserve has created an alternative model for the future predator conservation," Li Quan said.
"In the future, we hope those tigers could return to the nature in China," said she.
The four-day IWMC is underway with the theme of "Cooperative Wildlife Management across Borders: Learning in the Face of Change".
It emphasizes on the wildlife scientific management in the world by integrating global efforts into an effective protection, such as endangered species recovery, invasive species, wildlife population management, trans-border cooperation and conservation, natural resource use and sustainability.
Li Quan said the Laohu Valley reserve also greatly promoted the restoration of the local biodiversity.
"The reserve now supports many plants and animals, including the springbuck, eland, impala, ostrich, fox, wolf and caracal," she said to Xinhua.