Six tigers might not seem like that many, but seeing them on camera traps at a Thai wildlife sanctuary has warmed the hearts of local conservationists and grabbed headlines in the Southeast Asian nation.
Indeed, experts did not expect to find so many tigers in this protected forest area, as it is the first time in three decades that there has been an increase in the number of Indochinese tigers in the wildlife sanctuary of Salak Phra in central Thailand.
One of the reasons for the return of iconic predators to the region could be the renewed presence of wild cattle called banteng, which frequently serve as prey for predators.
“East [posible] that the release of banteng in the sanctuary in recent years has led to the increase in the tiger populationenthused Seree Makboon, a local wildlife official. “Our efforts have produced results beyond expectations”.
Female and cubs among the six tigers, hope for recovery
Of the six tigers, three are a mother with two cubs, indicating that the local tiger population may be on the mend.
However, there are serious threats to striped predators in Thailand, including poaching. In a bid to protect its beleaguered wild tiger population, Thailand has cracked down on poachers, imposing stiff penalties on those found guilty of killing wild tigers.
Earlier this month, five local men who caught and killed a tigress and her cub in a national park last year were each sentenced to nearly five years in prison.
The country has the largest population of Indochina tigers in its protected national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, but the predators still number only around 150 in the wild.
This makes their situation particularly precarious in one of the last strongholds of these Indochinese cats, already declared extinct in neighboring Cambodia and Laos.