South China tiger photos exposed as hoax.

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South China tiger photos turn out to be fake

South China tiger photo exposed as fake cardboard cut out

In October 2007, Chinese farmer Zhou Zhenglong convinced China's Shaanxi Forestry Department to pay him several thousand dollars for some photos he said he took of the rare South China tiger. The photos on this page are 3 of 71 photos and film images Zhou took.

The South China tiger is believed to be extinct, although it is generally classed as “rare”. It had not been sighted since about 1988 until Zhou's pictures appeared.

The Forestry Department of Shaanxi, which was anxious to prove that it was doing its job of conserving China's animals, initially released one photograph.

Immediately every graphic designer in the world was suspicious. It looked a little “unreal”. When more pictures were released it was obvious to anyone who had an IQ higher than China's night-time temperature that they were fraudulent.

South China tiger fake photo

Some of the photos seemed shiny, and focused on a leaf or two rather than on the tiger. And, umm, how come the tiger was always in exactly the same position even though the pictures were taken at different angles and at different distances?

South China tiger hoax photo

And how come that leaf covering the top of the tiger's head was in every photo, taken at different times, different places, and different angles?

But the forestry people coughed up a wad of cash and presented it to Zhou for his wonderful discovery anyway.


In September 2008, Zhou was jailed for faking the pictures and taking money falsely.

How had he faked the photos? He got a poster of the animal, cut out the tiger, and propped it up in the jungle. He then took photos to his heart's content, not having to worry about the tiger moving away.

Not only that, but it turned out he had rephotographed some of his best photos, which made them look more blurry and with worse coloring.

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