Thailand’s wild tiger population shows impressive growth

The number of tigers in the wild is growing in Thailand, making it the only country in Southeast Asia where the big cat population is rising, said Varawut Silpa-archa, the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, who vowed to keep improving measures to protect the critically endangered species.
“We have had success in improving their habitation areas by using the latest technology and the smart patrol system,” said Minister Varawut. “Thailand’s tiger conservation and population recovery plans are certified by international standards.”
Varawut made the remarks on July 29, International Tiger Day. He had just returned from the 4th Asia Ministerial Conference on Tiger Conservation where Thailand was praised for its efforts by other countries.
Loss of habitat is the chief reason tigers are under threat. In 1900, more than 100,000 tigers roamed the forests of Asia. The number has reduced over the years. Then before 2000, the tide began to turn as nations made greater commitments to protect tigers.
Thailand was among those nations.
“We have seen tiger footprints from the cameras installed in national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, and it is estimated there are 148-149 tigers in the forests, the highest number in Southeast Asia,” said Phadet Laithong, Director of the Wildlife Conservation Office.
The Thungyai and Huai Kha Khaeng wildlife sanctuaries showed the most dramatic rise in tiger numbers. They have increased from 42 in 2012 to 100 this year as a result of the smart patrol system.
Tigers are in some respects a bellwether species for forests and the environment. If tigers are thriving, it means forests are healthy and valued.
“To conserve tigers means to conserve the forests where animals live. The biodiversity of an area always correlates with its tiger population,” Phadet said.