Scientists and conservationists have reported finding a second breeding population of Indochinese tigers in a jungle in Thailand. They have also released photographs of the cubs as proof.
Indochinese tigers are a critically endangered subspecies. According to Panthera, a conservation group, Freeland, an anti-trafficking organization, and the Department of National Parks of Thailand, there are only 221 Indochinese tigers left in the wild. They are found only in Myanmar and Thailand, and their only other breeding ground is Thailand’s Huai Kha Khaeng wildlife sanctuary.
The surveyors had been tracking the tigers since 1999. Last year, however, was the first time that their camera traps got pictures of six cubs belonging to four mothers.
The agencies released a statement saying, “Poaching for the illegal wildlife trade stands as the gravest threat to the survival of the tiger, whose numbers in the wild have dwindled from 100,000 a century ago to 3,900 today.”
At one point, there were eleven subspecies of tiger. Two died out during prehistoric times, while three more went extinct during the 20th century. The six remaining subspecies are all considered endangered. The Bengal tiger has the largest population with roughly 3500 individuals living in the wild.
Tigers could once be found throughout much of Asia. Today, they are virtually extinct in Cambodia, southern China, Laos, most of Myanmar and Vietnam. Tiger bones are used in traditional medicine despite their being no evidence they actually work.
In a video call from New York, Panthera’s chief executive officer, Alan Rabinowitz, said that Thailand has “one of the best-protected and best tiger areas left in the world”. He added that “Thailand has shown that you can protect tigers and bring them back. They can do this now in the eastern forest complex as they have done in the western forest complex.”
On its website, Panthera mentioned that only 8 percent of the known tiger sites had confirmed breeding populations. The photos were thus extremely rare and important. Panthera added that the second breeding population could dramatically improve the chances of the Indochinese tiger and possibly allow them to expand their range into Cambodia or Laos.