Image: DNP/Freeland

A recent survey has revealed a new breeding population of Indochinese tigers — offering rare hope to a gravely endangered species. 

Camera traps situated in the Eastern Forest Complex of prominent UNESCO World Heritage Site Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex have captured remarkable images of mother tigers and their cubs. This is the first evidence of a breeding tiger population in Thailand within the past fifteen years.

The survey was performed as a collaboration between the Department of National Parks, Freeland, and Panthera. The team estimates a density of 0.63 tigers per 100 square kilometers.

The Indochinese tiger is a smaller version of its Bengal and Siberian relatives, with males reaching an average size of 8-9ft in length and weighing in at around 400lbs.

Image: DNP/Freeland

There are currently only an estimated 3,000-4,000 remaining tigers in the entire world, making this rare discovery miraculous news for the dwindling species. Breeding populations are even more limited in numbers, restricted to eight different countries in total including Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Thailand and Russia.

The study illustrates that these findings “demonstrate the species’ remarkable resilience given wildlife poaching and illegal rosewood logging present in the Complex.”

Rosewood logging is the primary threat to the area’s Indochinese tigers, a dangerous presence that will require diligent protection of the newfound population.

Additional conservation obstacles include planned habitat encroachment due to the projected expansion of Highway 304 which would directly bisect the forested complex, resulting in inevitable species fragmentation.

Conservationists in Thailand will be working to preserve the Indochinese tiger population with continued efforts to decrease poaching and upscale patrol protocols.

“If wild tigers are permitted to go extinct, it would be the largest carnivore to do so since the American lion (Panthera leo atrox) died out at the end of the Pleistocene, approximately 10,000 years ago,” John Vaillant stated, quoted on Mongabay from “The Tiger”.

Image: DNP/Freeland/Panthera