Tigers make a comeback at Thai national park

Bangkok, Feb 19 (IANS) The depleted tiger population in Thailand has started to rebound, after over a decade of efforts to curb poaching at a conservation park in Uthai Thani province, the media reported on Friday.

According to the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), in 2012 researchers documented around 50 tigers in Hua Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary, a number that has now grown to 90, proving the success of ongoing patrols to stop poaching, Efe news reported.

“The protection effort is paying off as the years have progressed, as indicated by the increase in population, and we expect the number of tigers to increase even more rapidly in the years to come,” said Somphot Duangchantrasiri, the Hua Kha Khaeng wildlife research station chief who spearheaded an eight-year study of the big cat population in the park.

Camera trap surveys were conducted over 1,026 sq.km of the park to keep tabs on the tigers, while statistical models determined the density and survival rates of the felines.

The most imminent threat to the slowly growing tiger numbers comes from poaching, with the parts of more than 1,400 tigers seized by police since 2010, according to wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC.

In 2013, two Hua Kha Khaeng rangers died and two were critically injured in a gunfight with poachers during a park patrol, according to Anak Pattanavibool, the country director for WCS Thailand.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has estimated that there are only 3,200 of the felines left globally due to poaching and habitat loss.

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