BANGKOK — The first footage of Indochinese tigers breeding in the wild is evidence the critically endangered species could be recovering, wildlife advocates said Wednesday.
Footage of Indochinese tigers and their new cubs collected last year in Khao Yai National Park was released Tuesday night, proving the few such tigers left in the world may increase in number.
“This is incredibly exciting news. We’re seeing evidence for the first time that Indochinese tigers in eastern Thailand are breeding,” Josie Raine of anti-trafficking organization Freeland said Wednesday. “It’s also the first-ever photographic evidence of Indochinese tiger cubs in the wild.”
The cameras, put in place in 2008, are operated and monitored collaboratively by the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, Freeland and Panthera, a wild cat conservation organization. The organizations had monitored the tigers without cameras starting in 1999.
The footage and photographs show six different tiger cubs from four different mothers, Josie said.
Before 2016, the cameras had never captured any tiger cubs. Indochinese tigers are feared extinct in Cambodia, Laos, China and Vietnam. The only sizable bastion of the big cats left is in Thailand and Myanmar, with a population of only 221 tigers due to illegal poaching and logging.
“Anti-poaching patrols and enforcement of laws regarding national parks have had a major role in preserving the environment for Indochinese tigers to breed,” national parks Director Songtam Suksawang said. ”Still, we must continue our efforts since armed hunters are still a danger to these animals.”
The organizations chose to wait until now to release the news because they wanted to monitor the cubs’ development first.
“It’s very difficult for the cubs to grow to maturity, since they need a healthy ecosystem to survive in,” Raine said.
The last time Indochinese tiger cubs were seen was 2001, and even then only tracks were detected, Raine said.