While tigers worldwide are clinging on to survival, the Indochinese subspecies is hanging on by a thread. There are thought to be around 350 of the big cats left roaming four countries across East Asia, which makes the discovery of the world’s second breeding population of the endangered feline incredible news.
The footage of the tigers, including that of cubs, was recorded in the eastern part of Thailand. The breeding Indochinese tigers in this region make it only the second known population of the rare cats doing so. It has been 15 years since the tigers in this area were found to be having young, so this marks incredible resilience for the felines in an environment under heavy pressure from illegal logging and poaching.
The announcement was made by Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation, along with conservation groups Freeland and Panthera, who have placed 156 camera traps throughout the forest in order to catch glimpses of the cats.
Despite being hailed as a conservation victory for the critically-endangered animal, the number of tigers living in the region is still perilously low. Using the camera traps, they were able to deduce a tiger density of 0.63 per 100 square kilometers (38 square miles). The researchers note that this is similar to some of the most threatened tiger habitats in the world, which means there is still much to be done to protect them in Thailand.
“The existence of tigers here was often doubted, but these recent surveys are proving its importance not only nationally but regionally and internationally as well,” says Kraisak Choonhavan, Freeland’s chairman of the board, in a statement. “It’s crucial to continue the great progress made by the Thai government to bolster protection for tigers at the frontlines.”
The tigers were found to be breeding. DNP/Freeland/Panthera
Despite having once roamed across much of mainland Southeast Asia, their numbers have been decimated from hunting, logging, and habitat fragmentation to such an extent that the only remaining breeding populations can be found in Thailand. Here, the country’s rigorous anti-poaching protection has allowed them a glimmer of hope for the future, though much work is still needed.
It is thought that Thailand contains some of the most extensive suitable tiger habitats remaining in this region of the world. It is hoped that the conservationists can build on this rare success story by stepping up conservation and expanding protection of this majestic animal.
The find is good news for the tigers. DNP/Freeland/Panthera