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  1. #1
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    Tigers in Thap Lan

    Apparently they are far from all gone:
    Thailand jungles mask surprise rise in tiger numbers | Environment | The Guardian

    Deep in the jungle, armed forest rangers trek through the palms on a mission to confirm some rare good news: the discovery of a wild tiger population in an area of Thap Lan national park previously written off by wildlife experts.

    Working with foreign conservationists, the rangers have been gathering evidence from camera traps over the past two years that suggests this single national park in Thailand may have more tigers than China.
    “You can lead a horticulture but you can’t make her think.” Dorothy Parker

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    While everyone has been concerned over what bears do in the woods, tigers have been quietly, ahem, increasing their population.

    Good news.

    Now we have to ensure they are protected from poachers.

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    Good video. I wouldn't be surprised if tigers were inhabiting neighbouring Pang Sida NP in Sa Keaow. It's possible to ride 22 kms into Pang Sida along a dirt road (R3462) until it's barricaded off at a nice veiwpoint. The same road from the Konburi end has also been blocked off.
    Always wondered if it was to prevent traffic short-cutting between Konburi and Sa Keaow, but now maybe the real reason has been to protect the wildlife there. Good to see something positive is being done.

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    ^
    Unsure re tigers in Pangsida, some sites - incl the WWF one from memory - state there are some still there.

    Pangsida thread here (Sakaeo Pang Sida National Park) - I still get a reaction if I say 'tiger' when we're out on the bike . . . we did the 22km ride you mentioned

    Quote Originally Posted by genghis61
    About 2km from the gates we had to produce our 'permit' and through the gate on the road to the lookout. And a joke from the man on the barrier arm "keep your windows up for tigers'. We were on a motorbike.

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    With the prey item base being as big as it must to support a large tiger population, I'm surprised there aren't more poachers around. Maybe the rangers are actually doing a good job.

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    This has been known for some time, but it is great to see a couple more photos of these tigers, and the good, dedicated work of the national park staff to protect them. I am having doubts whether it is a good idea to make this public, but perhaps it will help gain support for such an extraordinary place and the good people who protect it. The Indochinese tiger has been hit very hard by poaching during the past three decades, and places that still have some are the exception rather than the rule; for example, they may already be extinct in Cambodia and Viet Nam, as well as throughout most of Myanmar.
    This population is very vulnerable, numbering no more than a couple dozen individuals, and the loss of only a few due to poaching could lead to the extinction of tigers there. They are at a crossroads, because if good protection of tigers and their prey is continued, and connections with Khao Yai (which has already lost its tigers, but not the prey base) secured, in about a decade this tiger population could rebound to safe densities. The good news is that the enforcement agencies are on the trail of several major wildlife dealers in Thailand, so hopefully they will at least lay low. The tigers are almost gone from most of the country, and it is time for poaching to stop while there are still a few left.
    Last edited by Saola71; 20-05-2011 at 06:59 PM.

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    Mmmm, Bowling...... mobs00's Avatar
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    ^^ I think you'll find that it's not that the rangers aren't trying to do a good job but that the rangers are more often than not prevented from doing a good job. Low pay/no pay some months, inadequate equipment and food, not enough training because of lack of funds (the govt recently cut a large portion to re-appropriate to the flooding in the south), and most importantly they are usually hampered by interests from above.

    Most of the rangers I've met on the ground, the ones making minimum wage, are good hearted people trying to do the right thing with the little resources they have.

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    Cheers for that link Genghis. I've lost all my photos of trips around Thailand due to pc fry-ups or defective camera memory cards etc and your thread enable me to re-live that particular trip. I remember the lack of veiwpoints very well and recall the near misses with oncoming 4x4s on the curves.
    Thank for the memories

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    Quote Originally Posted by mobs00 View Post
    ^^ I think you'll find that it's not that the rangers aren't trying to do a good job but that the rangers are more often than not prevented from doing a good job. Low pay/no pay some months, inadequate equipment and food, not enough training because of lack of funds (the govt recently cut a large portion to re-appropriate to the flooding in the south), and most importantly they are usually hampered by interests from above.

    Most of the rangers I've met on the ground, the ones making minimum wage, are good hearted people trying to do the right thing with the little resources they have.
    OK, let me rephrase that- maybe the rangers are allowed to do a good job, through the largesse of some pooyai somewhere no doubt.

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    Tigers in Thap Lan & Pangsida

    Quote Originally Posted by robuzo View Post
    Apparently they are far from all gone:
    Thailand jungles mask surprise rise in tiger numbers | Environment | The Guardian

    Deep in the jungle, armed forest rangers trek through the palms on a mission to confirm some rare good news: the discovery of a wild tiger population in an area of Thap Lan national park previously written off by wildlife experts.

    Working with foreign conservationists, the rangers have been gathering evidence from camera traps over the past two years that suggests this single national park in Thailand may have more tigers than China.
    Robuso,

    Unfortunately, there are no wild tigers in China. They only survive in zoos. The last recorded kill in the wild of a big cat was in the Bangkok Post a year or so ago. If any do survive, there would be a few in some isolated pocket.

    Ironically, tigers have become extinct in the country where they first evolved. And everyone knows the Chinese traditional medicine is the root cause!

    Tigers have been in Thap Lan and Pang Sida from the beginning. Both national parks are islands surrounded by a sea of humanity and disconnected from Khao Yai by Route 304.

    Tigers of course have now been finally documented with camera-trap surveys funded by Freeland. But tigers have been persecuted to almost the point of no return. They are breeding here but how sustainable is the population?

    The big "MUST" is absolute protection. All other things like research and development is secondary. After some elements in Thai society learn that tigers survive in a given area, these law breakers will do their utmost to influence locals to hunt the big cats for large rewards for a sack of tigers bones now known to fetch as much as 100,000 baht.

    This alone temps the poor villager to break the law. And his tools of the trade: 50 baht buys some rope to snare a bait animal and then poison to kill tigers and other animals like bear, civet and others creatures that come to rotting carcasses.

    The middle men who ply this trade must be apprehended and put away along with the big fish who is politically connected. This will be a tough one to enforce. There is too much money at stake.

    However. this is great news that Thailand has three great tiger reserves including Huai Kha Khaeng/Thung Yai Naresuan wildlife sanctuaries plus Keang Krachan Forest complex that also includes Kui Buri National Park.

    After news came out on TV a few years ago that the World Heritage Site had many tigers (about 100 was the figure put out on national TV by researchers), poachers sneaked in and did their dirty work. One unfortunate aspect of advertising that tigers do exist in a forest is almost like a death knell.

    Shortly after the TV program, three tigers including a mother and two cubs were poisoned. Only one was de-boned and the poachers escaped leaving the pelt.

    Sad to say, it is the ranger patrolling that has too many loopholes. The quality is frankly poor due to several factors that are well known like poor pay and sometimes no pay for months on end for the rangers. Incentive is very low among the ranks.

    The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) is in charge of the patrolling regime in Huai Kha Khaeng/Thung Yai complex. Recently, a group of rangers and two WCS researchers were sent on a 10 day walk deep into the interior. The rangers were pulled away from their duties to protect the area around their station to do a 'transect survey' for research. This is just one example of how the New York based NGO operates and mismanages the patrolling for their own mandate of research.

    Cash money is also given to the rangers for food who end up buying whiskey, sometimes by the crate. I have been on the ground throughout both sanctuaries and know what goes on.

    In the meantime, I camera-trapped poachers about an hour's walk south from the station. They tried to steal my camera but were unable to so due to the tough aluminum case and stainless steel cable wrapped around a large tree.

    These photos have been passed on to the new chief Uthai Chansuk, who is trying to improve protection and enforcement. But with a poor budget, he has a tough road ahead. I wish him luck. Some serious management and improvement of funding, new personnel, patrolling and enforcement is the only key to saving the tiger wherever they survive.

    The Kingdom of Thailand can be proud that tigers and other rare Asian animals still thrive in a few protected areas. It is now up to the powers-to-be to take stiff and decisive action, and to improve the future of the magnificent tiger and natural heritage before it is too late!



    Indochinese tiger camera-trapped in Huai Kha Khaeng in late April, 2011
    Last edited by Bruce Kekule; 29-05-2011 at 05:18 PM.

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    "One unfortunate aspect of advertising that tigers do exist in any given forest is almost like a death knell."

    This is I think what everyone is, or should be, worrying about when it comes to Thap Lan.

    "disconnected from Khao Yai by Route 304. "- Have they built any thruways, such as tunnels, so that wildlife can get from one side to the other without getting creamed by vehicles? OK, dumb question I'm sure.

    Thanks for the comments, Bruce. Interesting your comments about the ranger station and your successful trap photos near it- as I recall the last of the Khao Yai tigers used to hang out near the ranger station. Safest place, perhaps, plus the deer also seem to like it around the ranger stations I've visited in Thailand.

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    Quote Originally Posted by robuzo View Post
    "One unfortunate aspect of advertising that tigers do exist in any given forest is almost like a death knell."

    This is I think what everyone is, or should be, worrying about when it comes to Thap Lan.

    "disconnected from Khao Yai by Route 304. "- Have they built any thruways, such as tunnels, so that wildlife can get from one side to the other without getting creamed by vehicles? OK, dumb question I'm sure.

    Thanks for the comments, Bruce. Interesting your comments about the ranger station and your successful trap photos near it- as I recall the last of the Khao Yai tigers used to hang out near the ranger station. Safest place, perhaps, plus the deer also seem to like it around the ranger stations I've visited in Thailand.
    Robuzo,

    There is talk about a wildlife corridor between Khao Yai and Thap Lan across Route 304 but what they are proposing is an elevated highway stating that tunnels are too expensive to construct which of course is nonsense.

    It sounds like the folks who will build these bridges will fill their pockets no matter what the outcome. It also would take decades before any animals could safely cross under an elevated highway with cars and trucks whizzing by above. Trash would also be thrown from above to pollute the forest below. A no-win situation.

    A long tunnel is the only way with the existing road above completely removed and the area reforested. Protection of this forest would be tough giving the present system and status. We will have to keep our fingers crossed to see if any future government will actually take action so that these two great ecosystems can once again be partially united so animals could roam back and forth. I certainly will not be holding my breath waiting on this pipe-dream!

    Thanks for posting the thread and bringing attention to Thap Lan and Pang Sida. They really need positive help to survive into the future. Without doubt, Thailand's second best tiger reserve needs our attention.

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