Conservationists discover tigers in Thailand’s WEFCOM

The Zoological Society of London   2 June 2015

The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) has, for the first time, captured photographs of tigers in the southern region of Thailand’s Western Forest Conservation Complex (WEFCOM) using camera traps. Until now, there has been no formal record of tigers in the southern Protected Areas of WEFCOM, an area covering 18,000 square kilometres.

The tiger, a part of the Indochinese subspecies (Panthera tigris corbetti), classified as Endangered by the IUCN Red List, was photographed in January this year by ZSL camera traps set up in partnership with Thailand’s Department of National Parks.

Indochinese tiger (Panthera tigris corbetti) recorded in Thailand s Western Forest Complex. Copyright © ZSL

Indochinese tiger (Panthera tigris corbetti) recorded in Thailand s Western Forest Complex. Copyright © ZSL

The tiger’s unique stripe pattern enabled the conservationists to identify the animal as a female, which has previously been recorded on the Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary tiger database. In March, a male tiger was photographed in another region of WEFCOM not known to be home to tigers.

Kittiwara Siripattaranukul, Tiger Project Manager at ZSL, based in Thailand, said: “It’s great to have real evidence that tigers are found in a greater area of the WEFCOM than previously thought. Until now, there have only been unconfirmed reports of tigers in the area, but to capture photographs that prove their presence is really encouraging. We hope that the region will become a new territory for tigers.

“We don’t know whether these tigers are settled in the area or just moving through and we will be able to learn more by continued monitoring.”

An official at the Department of National Parks, added: “Documenting these tigers in a landscape where the species has previously been unmapped is very exciting.

“It’s reassuring to know that our joint conservation efforts are a step in the right direction and we hope that the southern WEFCOM region will be able to support a viable tiger population in future.”

ZSL works alongside the Department of National Parks in the villages surrounding the Park to promote tiger conservation and highlight issues that are threatening tiger survival. The project is determining tiger presence, distribution and abundance in the Salakpra Conservation Landscape within WEFCOM, while partnering with protected area managers and rangers to strengthen law enforcement and patrolling activities in order to conserve the endangered species.