New Tiger Sightings In Thailand Raise Conservation Hopes

International Tigers day being observed today

Some tiger species have already become extinct in Southeast Asia, such as the Java and Bali tigers.

Footage released by Thailand's Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, the Zoological Society of London, and conservation organisation Panthera shows tigers wandering through the tropical forests in the region.

According to Dr. Saksit Simcharoen, Chief of the Wildlife Research Division for DNP, "These sightings are extremely encouraging for the future of tigers in our country and beyond".

We are ready to help the other 13 countries with tiger ranges in conserving, capacity building and training in tiger conservation.

Illegal poaching is the gravest threat to the animals' survival and their numbers in the wild have dwindled from 100,000 a century ago to 3,900 today. They are also found in Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and southwestern China.

The declining population of Tigers globally is a cause for concern. In this regard, Saint Petersburg declaration on tiger conservation was signed by the countries in 2010. Thailand's tigers have not been spared as well.

But in the wild, tiger populations have been in rapid decline for decades now. The discovery of the new tigers thus throws up new challenges for conservationists to protect them as explained by Alex Godfrey, Thailand Country Program Manager for Panthera. "Although the Western Forest Complex (WEFCOM) is a large and relatively contiguous landscape, with a stable breeding population of tigers at its core (the ThungYai - Huai Kha Khaeng World Heritage Site), the southern portion of the landscape still faces significant anthropogenic pressure", he said.

How many tigers are left in the world?

Becci is WWF's United Kingdom regional manager and says while this is good news, threats still exist to the tiger population. The former also registered a substantial increase in tiger population, and along with Karnataka, ranks highest in tiger numbers. This will be done by limiting human interaction even in buffer areas around tiger reserves, thereby minimalizing man-animal conflict and excessive spillover of wildlife, including tigers.

A database of Thailand's tiger population showed two of the tigers had travelled from the northern part of the forest to the south, while the third had not been documented before, she said. We should be proud of the fact that we are leading the world in terms of ensuring that their population increases.

WWF Tigers Alive Initiative head Stuart Chapman said population increases in Bhutan, China, India, Nepal, and Russian Federation were "great news" for other threatened species in their habitat. "Our rangers and partners at Panthera and ZSL are keenly monitoring the region to determine if these individuals establish territories, ultimately helping to achieve Thailand's goal of increasing tiger populations by 50% by 2022".

But while tiger populations remain stable in the country, the report warns that with the populations being confined to small Protected Areas, some of which have habitat corridors that permit tiger movement between them, "most of the corridor habitats in India are not protected areas, and are degrading due to unsustainable human use and developmental projects". The cameras automatically distinguish between people and animals, sending pictures of potential poachers to local police in real time. "By better understanding the temporal patterns of access to the protected areas, patrol schedules can be adapted and optimized as necessary", he stated.



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