Beijing: A deer breeding centre at a nature reserve in northeast China is being used as a staple food chain for wild endangered Siberian tigers.
Fifty-five spotted deer, mostly aged two to three years, were sent to the breeding base in the state-level Wangqing nature reserve in Jilin Province.
They will be freed after being taught to survive in the wild, state-run Xinhua news agency reported today.
The centre is a joint project between the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Jilin government. The first phase covers an area of 90 hectares with an investment of about USD 98,000.
Red deer and other prey for Siberian tigers or Amur leopards will be bred at the center in the future. Both species are endangered.
Siberian tigers, also known as Amur or Manchurian tigers, mainly live in east Russia, northeast China and northern parts of the Korean Peninsula.
Less than 500 Siberian tigers are believed to survive in the wild, with an estimated 18 to 22 in Heilongjiang and Jilin.
The world population of Amur leopards is less than 60, and most of them live in Russia.
Since the start of the joint cooperation in supplementing prey for Siberian tigers, continual monitoring showed the wild Siberian tigers and Amur leopards have been spotted in the area close to the breeding sites, Li Qian, an official with the northeast office of WWF China said.
In July 2012, the first batch of 12 red deer and 22 spotted deer were released in Wangqing county for the wild Siberian tigers.