BEIJING - A type of tiger thought to be extinct in the wild for more than two decades has been photographed in a mountainous area in northwest China, state media reported Saturday.

The endangered subspecies known as the South China tiger was spotted by a farmer on Oct. 3, the China Daily said.

Experts confirmed that it was a young wild South China tiger, the newspaper quoted Shaanxi Forestry Administration Bureau Deputy Director Zhu Julong as saying.

"After the careful examination, experts confirmed the authenticity of the photos. That means the tiger has been found again after more than 20 years," Zhu said.

The South China tiger is one of the world's smallest and the only tiger subspecies native to China's central and southern areas, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

In the early 1950s, there were 4,000 of the tigers across the country, but that number fell as their habitat was squeezed by China's economic boom. There are 68 of the tigers in zoos in China, the newspaper said.