BANGKOK – Thailand’s wild tiger population has doubled in the past seven years, from 60 to 80 in 2013 to 160 in 2020, while also spreading to new territories in the west of the country, where some of the big cats were spotted for the first time in four years, officials said on Wednesday.
To mark International Tiger Day, Thailand’s Deputy Permanent Secretary of Natural Resources and Environment, Pongboon Pongthong, said in a statement that the increase in the tiger population is “thanks to the hard work of forest rangers, research teams from relevant organizations and stakeholders’ dedication to the conservation of tigers.”
On Wednesday, the organization for the defense of wild cats, Panthera, released a series of videos and photos of tigers in western Thailand, obtained with high-definition cameras hidden in the jungle in collaboration with Thai authorities, the first sighting in the region in four years.
“These sightings are extremely encouraging for the future of tigers in our country and beyond,” said Saksit Simcharoen, Chief of the Wildlife Research Division for Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP), in a statement released by Panthera.
“Our rangers and partners at Panthera and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) are keenly monitoring the region to determine if these individuals establish territories, ultimately helping to achieve Thailand’s goal of increasing tiger populations by 50% by 2022,” Saksit added.
Wild tigers are highly prized in countries like China, where every part of their body from its whiskers to its blood is used in the manufacture of traditional medicines. Trafficking of the animals in Asia is one of the greatest threats to the preservation of the species.
It is estimated that India hosts around 70 percent of the world population of these felines, which also have habitats in other Asian nations, although they have practically become extinct in Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia or Vietnam.
Massive mining projects, the construction of dams or the destruction of their habitat to create crops are among the main threats to this species.
In addition, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) published a report in early July condemning the use of traps by poachers in several countries of Southeast Asia.