As one of the last refuges of Indochinese tigers, Thailand is working to protect the endangered big cats from poachers. A tiger conservation centre has been launched in Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary, where forest rangers will be trained to track the endangered big cats, their prey – and their poachers.
Hunting has taken a devastating toll on Indochinese tigers, native to Thailand and neighboring countries. They have disappeared from the forests of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar. It has been a decade since one was last sighted in Cambodia, and in Vietnam the beautiful beasts have been hunted to eradication for their skin and bones, says leading tiger researcher Anak Pattanavibool.
With fewer than 160 tigers roaming its dense jungles, especially the western forest complex, Thailand is among the last refuges for Indochinese tigers, he said. “The western forest complex is our biggest hope,” he said. Listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site, that forest is home to about 100 to 120 wild tigers, with 80 of these living in the Thungyai-Huai Kha Khaeng wildlife sanctuaries. There used to be tigers in our other forests, such as in Phu Khiao and Nam Nao national parks in the Northeast and Khao Sok National Park in the south. But the Indochinese tigers, and their prey – deer, barking deer, gaur – were hunted to local extinction.
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