Less Than 300 But Fighting: Breeding Population of Nearly Extinct Indochinese Tiger Brings Hope
A few days ago, Thailand's Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, along with Panthera and Freeland Foundation, announced that they have found critically endangered Indochinese tiger cubs (Panthera tigris ssp. Corbetti), citing that they have photographs to prove it.
The conservationists said the Indochinese tiger cubs were spotted by camera traps in a Thai jungle at the Dong Phaya Yen-Khao Yai World Natural Heritage Site -- the second known breeding site of the Indochinese tigers. The largest breeding site is at Thailand's Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary, where 35 to 38 Indochinese tigers reside.
The Nation Multimedia reported that between June and February last year, 18 Indochinese tigers have been sighted, five of which are male and seven are female with six cubs. The discovery is an indication of the subspecies' resiliency despite present-day challenges.
Previously, IUCN estimated that of the 3,900 tigers left in the wild globally, only 391 of those are Indochinese tigers. The recent findings by the conservationists revealed 221 Indochinese tigers are estimated to remain in two Asian countries: Thailand and Myanmar.
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Jonathan Head, BBC South-East Asia correspondent, noted that the population of the subspecies has started to decline because of massive illegal logging in the forests of their origin countries such as Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. As trees are cut, the tigers' natural habitat is destroyed, leaving them without any breeding sites.
At present, the Indochinese tiger population is further declining because of illegal poaching.
"The stepping up of anti-poaching patrols and law enforcement efforts in this area have played a pivotal role in conserving the tiger population by ensuring a safe environment for them to breed," Songtam Suksawang, director of Thailand's national parks, said in a statement.
Suksawang further said that they will remain vigilant and will continue conservation efforts as poaching is still a major threat to these animals.
Indochinese tigers, as described by World Wildlife Organization, can grow up to nine feet long and weigh from 396 to 550 pounds. They have a dark orange or golden base coat with stripes like the Bengal tiger.
Female Indochinese tigers have a gestation period of about 3.5 months. The average number of cubs born at one time is around three, although they can give birth to seven cubs at most, Tigers.org.za cited.