Thailand’s wild tiger population up 50 percent in a decade
Thailand’s efforts to protect and conserve its biodiversity and wildlife are bearing fruit, as the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation announced last week that the Kingdom’s population of Indochinese tigers in the wild has doubled over the past decade.
The number of tigers living in or near Thailand’s wildlife sanctuaries has risen from 40 in 2005 to 60 today, according to the Department’s estimates, which are based on tracking the tigers. In Mae Wong National Park alone, 10 new tigers have been detected, according to Saksit Simcharoen, head of the Wildlife Conservation Office in central Nakhon Sawan province.
The increase is evidence that Thailand is living up to a commitment it made at the Tiger World Summit in St. Petersburg in the Russian Federation in 2010. The Kingdom pledged to increase its tiger population by half by 2020 at the summit. In February, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) ranked Thailand as the fourth best country in the world when it comes to managing tigers, at a summit in Nepal entitled “Towards Zero Poaching in Asia.”
The Indochinese Tiger is one of six subspecies of tigers – the largest of the big cats – all of which are endangered. Tigers once roamed most of Asia from Turkey to eastern Russia to Indonesia, but over the last 100 years have lost an estimated 93 percent of their habitat and are completely absent from most areas on the continent today. Less than 4,000 wild tigers still inhabit the Himalayas, the Indian subcontinent, parts of Southeast Asia, and an area in eastern Russia.
WWF warned in 2010 that the number of Indochinese tigers in the wild had fallen by 70 percent in the preceding decade. The Fund said that six countries – Thailand, Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar and Viet Nam – are now home to only around 350 tigers.
Saksit said that dozens of tigers are now living in forests near the UNESCO World Heritage sanctuaries in Uthai Thani, Tak and Kanchanaburi provinces along Thailand’s western border with Myanmar. Until recently, none had been detected in those areas.
The growing tiger population should add weight to Thailand’s bid to have the Huay Kha Khaeng wildlife sanctuary approved as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as the Kingdom has been demonstrating that it can successfully conserve and sustain its bounty of natural wonders and biological diversity. Hua Kha Khaeng is also along Thailand’s western border but further south.
Thailand Focus August 3rd, 2015
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