Thailand is home to a population of increasingly rare Indo Chinese tigers and efforts are underfoot to rescue one that is missing a leg. The female was recently seen eating a dead buffalo, and rescuers hope she will return and can be captured.
The buffalo belonged to a farmer, and it is assumed the cat attacked the animal because it was easier to catch than wild prey. But this increases the risk of conflict with humans. The rescue operation is being mounted by Freeland and the Thai National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department.
Freeland is an international conservation group. They hope to rescue the tiger and reduce conflict by assisting local farmers in finding areas to graze animals. The conflict is believed to have occurred because farmers illegally graze their animals in park land. The Thai department is the government agency working with other conservationists to protect Thai parks, wildife and native plants. Thailand is expanding efforts to save its tigers, thought to number under 200 in the country.
The drama is occurring in Phao Laem National Park, which has recently been the site of poacher activity and conflicts between humans and the few surviving tigers. The Indo Chinese tiger is smaller than tigers in India and Siberia. It is believed to have separated from Malayan tigers. The current estimate is less than 500 Indo Chinese tigers are left in the wild. They occur in China, Burma, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand. Numbers in China, Laos and Cambodia are quite small and they may be extinct in those countries.
Khao Laem National Park is about 1,500 square kilometers in size and is in the northwestern part of the country. It is remote and difficult to access but is a tourist destination nonetheless. It abuts the coast and features jungle settings.
The injured tiger is considered an easy target for poachers, and the loss of the limb makes hunting difficult. The plan is to try to entice her with food, tranquilize her and take her to a shelter for veterinary care and protection.
There are now more tigers in zoos, rescue situations and private hands than there are in the wild. Tigers face enormous threats from humans. In India conflict with humans may be leading to inbreeding. In the United Startes irresponsible owners have forced rescue organizations to work overtime to rescue abused tigers.