Thailand’s Wild Tigers Face Growing Threat from Fires, Urgent Measures Required

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BANGKOK – The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has voiced grave concerns about the escalating devastation caused by fires on Thailand’s vulnerable wild tiger population, emphasizing the immediate need for robust actions to safeguard their habitats and ensure their survival.

Speaking at the “Move Forward to Sustainable Tiger Conservation” conference, Jatuporn Buruspat, the Permanent Secretary, lauded Thailand’s commendable efforts in protecting its wild tiger populations. The nation had joined hands with 12 other countries in committing to the St. Petersburg Declaration on Tiger Conservation, pledging to double the tiger population by 2022 and conserve their habitats.

The collaborative endeavors of forest authorities and stakeholders have yielded promising outcomes, evident in the data released by the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation. The figures reveal an encouraging rise in tiger numbers, ranging from 130-160 in 2020 to 148-189 in 2022.

A critical bastion for tigers, the Thungyai-Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary, stands out as Thailand’s largest tiger habitat, providing shelter to an estimated 103-131 of these majestic creatures. Trailing closely behind is the Tab Lan National Park in Prachin Buri province, harboring 15-23 tigers. The Western Forest Complex, encompassing Mae Wong, Khlong Lan, and Khlong Wang Chao national parks, along with the Ung Phang Wildlife Sanctuary, is home to 16-21 tigers.

As part of intensive monitoring efforts, Jatuporn highlighted the deployment of trap cameras across 1,200 locations within 28 conservation forests. Yet, these initiatives confront an imminent peril in the form of climate change. Prolonged droughts and limited food sources, coupled with human-triggered forest fires, are imposing grave challenges on tiger habitats.

In a swift response, the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation has launched a comprehensive national action plan, spanning from 2022 to 2034, aimed at conserving the country’s tiger population. The blueprint seeks to lend support to tiger communities in pivotal zones, including the Western Forest Complex, the Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex, Kaeng Krachan Forest, Phu Khieo-Nam Nao Forest, and Khlong Saeng-Khao Sok Forest.

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