Smart patrols boost population of Thailand’s tigers

Thailand stands alone in Southeast Asia by boosting its wild tiger population.

Tigers have lost some 95% of their historical range and there are now only about 4,000 or so left in the wild. Sadly, only two countries – India and Thailand – are working to protect the populations of wild tigers in government reserves.

Thailand is now home to the largest number of wild tigers in all of Southeast Asia thanks to stepped-up conservation measures over the past decade. But it’s also down to neglect, as many other countries seem unable to adequately protect the majestic beast.

The Good Men Project reports that at parks in Thungyai and Huai Kha Khaeng, tiger numbers have increased from 42 in 2012 to around 100 this year.

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Varawut Silpa-archa, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, said…

“We have successfully improved their habitation areas by using the latest technology and the smart patrol system.”

Smart patrols boost population of Thailand's tigers | News by Thaiger
Minister Varawut Silpa-archa said that the tigers’ habitation areas had been improved by using the smart patrol system.

The smart patrol system has been installed in over 200 protected forest parks in Thailand. Strategically positioned cameras around the sanctuaries keep tabs on wild tigers and other critically endangered animals.

Phadet Laithong, director of the government-run Wildlife Conservation Office, said…

“We have seen tiger footprints and estimated there are 150 tigers in the forests. Conserving tigers means conserving the forests where animals live. The biodiversity of an area always correlates with its tiger population.”

Thailand’s success is especially welcome as other nations in the region have been far less successful.

Indochinese tigers (Panthera tigris corbetti) have been declared extinct in Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. In Malaysia, the fate of the Malayan tiger (Panthera tigris jacksoni) hangs in the balance.

Even here at home, poaching is a constant threat. Earlier this year the pelts of two newly killed tigers were found by park rangers near the Myanmar border. The rangers also discovered tiger meat roasting on a grill at the campsite abandoned by four suspected poachers.

Smart patrols boost population of Thailand's tigers | News by Thaiger
The recent killing of two tigers taught Thailand’s park rangers that they must always be on their guard.

A few days later the suspects turned themselves in, telling police that they had shot the two tigers because the predators had been attacking their cattle, but there were no prior recorded reports of tigers killing cattle in the area.

The slaughter of the two tigers showed that despite their successes, park rangers must remain on constant lookout.

Poaching is driven by mainly Chinese and Vietnamese demand for skins, bones and other body parts used in tiger-based traditional medicines and decorative curios. Deterring poachers is vital if the country is to ensure that its tigers can continue to live in the forests of paradise.


Smart patrols boost population of Thailand's tigers | News by Thaiger

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Jon Whitman

Jon Whitman is a seasoned journalist and author who has been living and working in Asia for more than two decades. Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, Jon has been at the forefront of some of the most important stories coming out of China in the past decade. After a long and successful career in East sia, Jon is now semi-retired and living in the Outer Hebrides. He continues to write and is an avid traveller and photographer, documenting his experiences across the world.

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