Footage from 156 camera shows four female Indochinese tigers with at least six cubs in Thailand’s eastern jungle. Wildlife conservationists confirmed on Wednesday (March 29) that this is the world’s second breeding population of the critically endangered cats.
This is the first evidence of tigers breeding in Thailand’s eastern area in more than 15 years. The cameras that captured the cubs were installed by Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP), Freeland, a counter wildlife and human trafficking organization and Panthera, a global wild cat conservation group.
“It provides a little bit of hope that potentially, we no longer have all of our eggs in one basket, that we have another population that can potentially recover and increase the population for the sub-species,” says Eric Ash, a conservation project manager at Freeland.
Before this discovery, there was only one other known breeding population for Indochinese tigers in western Thailand.
Tigers, which are subject to extreme poaching for their skin and body parts, have been on the brink of extinction. World Wildlife Fund (WWF) sounded the alarm in 2010 for the Indochinese tiger subspecies because the population dropped by more than 70 percent in just over a decade. Six countries—Thailand, Cambodia, China, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, and Vietnam—are now home to only around 350 tigers.
Only about 3,900 tigers are believed to be left in the wild around the world, according to 2011 figures by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Conservationists hailed the discovery of a second breeding population of Indochinese tigers as an indicator of successful patrol and protection efforts by Thai authorities against illegal poaching and rosewood logging.
Thailand’s Department of Parks and Wildlife celebrated the discovery of the second breeding population of Indochinese tigers as an indicator of Thai authorities’ “remarkable resilience given wildlife poaching and illegal rosewood logging”.