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Rare footage of endangered tigers in Thailand boosts hope for species' survival

Remote cameras set up for a wild elephant survey in a western region of Thailand wound up capturing video of several endangered tigers.

WASHINGTON — Conservation groups are celebrating the 10 year anniversary of Global Tiger Day with new photos and videos showing endangered tigers lurking in a region of western Thailand for the first time in four years.

Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP), Panthera and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) on Tuesday released the photos and videos captured by remote camera traps that were meant for a wild elephant survey.

“These sightings are extremely encouraging for the future of tigers in our country and beyond," Chief of the Wildlife Research Division for DNP Dr. Saksit Simcharoen said. "These tigers are in a precarious situation. Sustained and stronger protection of this area from poaching activity of any kind is the key to ensuring these individuals live on, helping Thailand’s tigers to rebound.”

The photos are encouraging to conservation groups and it could mean that ecosystems are recovering, according to ZSL's Chief Technical Advisor in Thailand Dr. Eileen Larney.

Panthera said that regions in Asia and around the world are seeing a spike in wildlife poaching because of the decrease in patrolling amid the coronavirus pandemic. However, the Wildlife and Plant Conservation said it is still continuing to patrol for poachers during virus lockdowns.

Illegal wildlife poaching is considered to be the "gravest threat to the survival of tigers," according to Panthera. Tiger populations in the wild have dwindled from 100,000 a century ago to about 3,900 today.

“In a sea of news casting doubt on the future of our planet’s wildlife, this development is a welcome sign of hope and potential turning of the tide for the Endangered tiger in Thailand," Panthera Chief Scientist and Tiger Program Director, Dr. John Goodrich said. "These tigers’ repeated detections in new areas suggests suitable habitat and prey exists for this small but significant population. All to say that our collaborative conservation efforts are paying off at a time when the species needs it the most.”

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Credit: Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP), Panthera and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL)
This photo was obtained with remote camera traps utilized as part of an ongoing joint DNP-Panthera-ZSL wildlife monitoring program in western Thailand.

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