Rare new footage shows a tigress and her cubs inside the forests of Thailand’s Mae Wong National Park. With fewer than 300 endangered wild Indochinese tigers left in Thailand, the video is a thrilling sight.
Wild tiger numbers have been in steep decline because of illegal tiger trade, shrinking habitat and loss of prey. But along with the footage comes news that this tigress and her cubs face an additional and irreversible threat.
A $400 million dam has been proposed on the Mae Wong River, close to the very site where a camera trap filmed the tigers. The dam jeopardizes the survival of Thailand’s tigers and risks conservation work in Mae Wong National Park and an adjacent wildlife sanctuary.
As opposition to the dam builds, the Thai Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) and WWF released the video, which was captured earlier this year as part of ongoing efforts by DNP and WWF to monitor wild tigers.
“The good news is that the footage tells us our tiger conservation efforts are on the right track and that this area is succeeding in helping wild tigers reproduce,” said Rebecca Ng of WWF’s Greater Mekong program. “If the dam is built, it will literally wash away years of conservation efforts and risk the future of tigers in Thailand.”
A Promise to Build a Future for Tigers
WWF is among various groups in opposition to the dam, which will not only submerge forests vital for recovering tiger prey species but also open new access roads that could also result in a loss of tiger habitat and increased poaching.
WWF is asking the Thai government to consider alternatives—including better water management, improved irrigation, and construction of smaller dams outside protected areas.
The conservation efforts in Thailand’s Mae Wong National Park are built on commitments made at the 2010 Tiger Summit. At the summit, the Thai government and a dozen other tiger range states worked with WWF to commit to doubling the numbers of wild tigers by 2022.