Leonardo DiCaprio hails Thailand’s tiger conservation

Hollywood megastar and environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio lauded Thailand on his Instagram account for its success in protecting its wild tigers and increasing their numbers, as the species is under tremendous threat and scientists have warned it may become extinct.

“In Thailand’s Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary, tigers are roaring back thanks to a major long-term effort by the government of Thailand. As a result, tiger numbers in the sanctuary have risen dramatically, from 41 in 2010-11 to 66 today – a more than 60 percent increase,” DiCaprio wrote to mark Global Tiger Day on July 29.

The Academy Award-winning actor also credited wildlife conservation societies for supporting the Thai government’s efforts.

Conservationists have said that Huai Kha Khaeng is the largest habitat for wild tigers in Southeast Asia. Thailand is one of the very few countries where the number of wild tigers is growing. The World Wildlife Fund said there are about 3,900 wild tigers worldwide, and their number is declining in areas including Southeast Asia.

The increasing tiger population is the result of less poaching and better forest protection, according to Saksit Simcharoen, chief of the Wildlife Research Unit at the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, and an expert on tiger conservation.

Last week, Thailand’s Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment said it had begun talks with the military to reclaim a forest pass it holds for security reasons. The ministry believes it would help the tiger population grow even larger. The presence of humans and military bases has cut the tigers’ roaming areas in two.

“If the pass is annexed, the break in the forest will be bridged, and tigers from the Upper Western Forest Complex will easily be able to move to into the Phetchaburi and Ratchaburi areas and then onwards into Myanmar. That will enlarge their breeding area,” said Songtham Suksawang, director of the National Park Office.

Photo courtesy of www.worldwildlife.org