'Miraculous' discovery of ultra-rare Indochinese tigers in Thailand

Peter Walker

A a small population of Indochinese tigers have been discovered in Thailand, a find that conservationists have called 'miraculous'.

At least four females and six cubs were found using hidden cameras, according to Thailand’s national parks and wildlife department.

There are only around 350 giant cats from the Indochinese family left in the world partly, it is believed, because of poaching.

So conservationists are hailing the find in Thailand’s eastern jungle as a success story in the fight against illegal hunting.

Conservationists are celebrating a victory against illegal poaching AP

“It provides a little bit of hope that potentially, we no longer have all of our eggs in one basket,” said Eric Ash, a conservation project manager at Freeland, an anti-human and animal trafficking group.

“That really can only happen if tigers have effective, sufficient amount of prey and if they have sufficient protection.”

A joint statement from Thailand's national parks and wildlife department, Freeland, and wild cat conservation group Panthera, said only 221 Indochinese tigers are estimated to remain in Thailand and Burma.

The remainder live in southern China, Cambodia and Laos where they are almost extinct.

“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,” it said.

Alan Rabinowitz, chief executive officer of Panthera, said from New York: “The Thai forestry department proved that with protection you can not only bring tigers back, but now the western forest complex, specifically Huai Kha Khaeng, is a global model of tiger conservation.

”It is one of the best protected and best tiger areas left in the world. Thailand has shown that you can protect tigers and bring them back. They can do this now in the eastern forest complex as they've done in the western forest complex."

John Goodrich, tiger programme director at Panthera, said: “The extraordinary rebound of eastern Thailand's tigers is nothing short of miraculous."

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