Conservationists have said they have found evidence that the critically endangered Indochinese tiger is breeding in a jungle in Thailand. They said what they discovered is nothing short of a miracle as it is seen as a welcome sign of hope for the survival of the nearly extinct tiger, whose population is less than 250.
Counter-trafficking organisation Freeland and the wild cat conservation group, Panthera, along with Thailand conservation authorities confirmed on Tuesday (28 March) that this was the first evidence of a breeding population in eastern Thailand in over 15 years.
Footage from camera traps set up around the jungle showed at least six new cubs walking around among a group of Indochinese tigers. The cubs are thought to be one of two breeding populations of Indochinese tigers left in the wild in Thailand, the BBC noted. The other breeding population is in the Huai Kha Khaeng wildlife sanctuary in western Thailand.
The organisations estimated that only 221 Indochinese tigers, which are a sub-species, remained in two Asian countries – Thailand and Myanmar. Poaching and the loss of habitat resulted in bringing down their global population figure.
However, conservationists said the discovery of the new breeding population was due to beefing up of the anti-poaching efforts in Thailand.
John Goodrich, tiger programme director at Panthera, said: "The extraordinary rebound of eastern Thailand's tigers is nothing short of miraculous ... With continued infiltration of rigorous anti-‐poaching protection, there is no doubt that this population can be fully."
The groups said that while poaching for the illegal wildlife trade stands as the gravest threat leading to the extinction of the tigers, the number of tigers in the wild now stands at 3,900. It is a dramatic decline compared to the number of tigers a century ago – 100,000.
The director of Thailand's national parks, Songtam Suksawang, said: "The stepping up of anti-poaching patrols and law enforcement efforts in this area have played a pivotal role in conserving the tiger population by ensuring a safe environment for them to breed.
"However, we must remain vigilant and continue these efforts, because well-armed poachers still pose a major threat."