Endangered tigers caught in Thailand threatened for species survival

The footage of the big cats is rekindling the hope that tigers are returning to the country’s forests after being extinct and sold to the illegal wildlife trade.

The remote camera trap caught three young Indochinese tigers in February and March. In one shot, a curious tiger comes up to the camera to examine the device.

Releasing to coincide with Global Tiger Day, the images are part of a joint monitoring program between Thailand’s National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Protection (DNP) Department, Panthera, the global wild cat conservation organization, and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) Captured as.

Panthera’s chief scientist and tiger program director John Goodrich said, “In a sea of ​​doubt about the future of our planet’s wildlife, this development is a welcome sign of hope and potential diversion for the endangered tiger in Thailand.” .

The tigers are believed to have moved south from an established breeding population to reach a new area near the border of Myanmar, with at least one tiger traveling about 80 kilometers (50 mi).

That part of Thailand is remote, mountainous and is surrounded by dense tropical forest. However, the exact location of tigers to protect them from predators has not been made public.

“We believe they are quite young and think that they are all males,” said Chris Hallam, Southeast Asia regional coordinator for Panthera, a global wild cat conservation organization.

Hallam said that the evidence of tigers roaming in areas not previously visited was significant because it means those areas are adequately protected and there is enough prey for their disposal.

“We don’t know if they’re down in that area for sure, but we’re watching them up close,” he said, indicating his presence was “a recovery of an area that historically belonged to tigers and now their It’s like welcoming them back. “

Precious existence

With a majority in India, 3,900 tigers are estimated to have survived in the wild worldwide below 100,000 a century ago. In Thailand, only 160 tigers are thought to live.

Illegal poaching is the main reason for the number of tigers, where animals are hunted and killed to meet the demand for a multi-billion dollar illegal wildlife trade. Tiger’s organs, such as skin and bone, are much sought after in the traditional medicine market.

The destruction of their habitats by logging and human encroachment has also contributed to the decline.

While they once thrived in most of Asia, tiger populations have perished in China, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and most of Myanmar. Three populations are already extinct – Caspian, Java and Bali tigers. South China’s tiger is critically endangered, and possibly extinct in the wild.

In 2010, all 13 countries with a tiger population committed to double the number of wild tigers by 2022, the year of the tiger in the Chinese zodiac. The Global Tiger Recovery Program has seen some success, including in India and Nepal.

According to the National Survey, India’s tiger population increased one-third to nearly 3,000 animals between 2014 and 2018.
Other areas have performed poorly. A 2019 report states that there are no tigers left in Laos and some experts may warn the tiger population of extinction in two to three years.

The new sight in Thailand is then extremely important for the survival of the entire species.

“Thailand is absolutely essential to tiger populations and tiger conservation,” said Hallam of Panthera. “Thailand, especially for the Indochinese tiger, is the last bastion of hope to recover that species.”

The head of the Wildlife Research Division for Thailand’s DNP, Sakaset Simcharoin, said the vision is “encouraging for the future of tigers in our country and beyond.”

“These tigers are in a precarious position. To help Thailand’s tigers reverse, the persistent and strong protection of the region from any poaching is the key to ensuring these individuals,” he said.

The remote camera trap caught three young Indochinese tigers over a period of several months in western Thailand.

Thailand’s successes

Recognizing that tigers in Thailand are facing extinction, the government launched a plan to increase the number of tigers by 50% by 2022, with some success.

The world’s second known breeding population of Indochinese tigers was found in eastern Thailand in 2016.

The discovery at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Dong-Fayen Khao Yai Forest Complex included images of tiger cubs and was an important step towards ensuring tiger survival in the country.

The largest breeding ground is in Thungai-Huai Kha Kheng Wildlife Sanctuaries in western Thailand.

The new vision, expanded from the region, is the result of a seven-year effort, including protected areas and tiger habitat, training rangers, strengthening law enforcement, and working with villages to better understand livelihoods and human-wildlife understanding is. struggle.

“Like tigers, to see predators, returning to the forests means that the ecosystem is recovering, which is good for all wildlife,” said Eileen Larney, chief technical advisor at ZSL in Thailand.

“The situation for tigers worldwide remains uncertain, but such breakthroughs show that through our work with communities and governments, we can see that the population is beginning to recover.”


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