Camera traps in a forest in western Thailand have captured footage of tigers in the area for the first time in four years, a conservationist said. The discovery raises hopes about efforts to preserve the species in the Southeast Asian country.
The video and photographs show three male tigers roaming at night, including at one point peering directly into one of the camera traps.
“We are excited about this discovery,” said Kritsana Kaewplang, country director for the conservation group Panthera in Thailand which was released on Global Tiger Day.
There are estimated to be about 160 Indochinese tigers left in the wild in Thailand. They are also found in Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and southwestern China. The total population may be only about 350, according to the World Wildlife Fund.
Globally there are estimated to be only about 3,900 tigers left in the wild, including the larger Bengal and Siberian tigers.
Kaewplang, who has been working with Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation and other organizations, said the sightings mean Thailand is on the right track trying to preserve tigers and their prey.
“The next important step for us is that we have to try to make the connecting routes of each forest area accommodating for them, in order for the tigers to roam safely,” Kaewplang said.
A database of Thailand’s tiger population showed two of the tigers had traveled from the northern part of the forest to the south, while the third had not been documented before, she said.
Thailand is a trafficking hub of illegal wildlife products, and tigers face the threat of poaching.