Northern Thailand

Weeklong wandering tiger returned safely to wildlife sanctuary

PHOTO: Vichit the tiger has safely returned to his wildlife sanctuary. (via publicdomainpictures)

The hunt for a tiger that wandered from his wildlife sanctuary in Uthai Thani is finally over. After a week of meandering the surrounding areas – and attracting public attention on news and social media sites – Vichit the tiger has been located and has returned safely to its natural habitat in Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary.

Vichit is wearing a collar with an electronic tag in it which alerts wildlife officials of the cat’s movement, though apparently not closely enough to capture the tiger earlier. The transmitter recorded movements showing that the big car wandered about 83 kilometres in total before returning back to the wildlife sanctuary.

Tracking data showed that the tiger came close enough to 6 different temples and communities to cause alarm, both that the wild animal might harm a human or the cattle that locals herd in the area and that the cat might itself get injured or killed by human interaction. At one point it was rumoured that Vichit had been hit by a car, but that, fortunately, did not happen.

The tiger had a meandering journey, exploring roughout Mae Wong National Park in Nakhon Sawan all the way to Kamphaeng Phet province in the Pang Sila Thong district. A wildlife official said Vichit mostly wandered over small shrub-covered hills and through plantations of eucalyptus and tapioca in its weeklong adventure.

The 12th Conservation Area Office in Nakhon Sawan said that the tiger’s adventure going viral raised awareness of tiger conservation. They said it is likely tigers would stray again in the future as the tiger population is growing in the habitat that is no longer big enough to contain them all. Villages and farms near the habitat should take safety precautions as well as learn about tigers to understand their nature and how to protect people and their cattle from any future run-in with tigers.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.