Tiger Conservation is not just tiger conservation. Because the effective strategy to keep tigers survive in the wild is to protect not only the tiger but their overall ecosystem for their survival; enough coverage for home ranges, sufficient water resources, abundant of prey, etc., are the essential factors should also being considered. In principle, tiger conservation bases on ecological factors also benefit human livings and being the fundamental of all mankind innovation anyhow.
Among the complexity and diversity of an ecosystem, there are complicated relationships between each species. While tigers represent the top of the food chain in all sites where they occur, they control herbivore population and retain the strong genetic by eating the weak. However, densities of main prey species influence tiger densities in several ways. As prey densities declines, breeding female home range become larger, dramatically reducing the number of such females that the area can support. By this relationship, tiger can remarkably indicate abundance of an intact forest.
Trend of global tigers in the wild over a century (during 1900 – 2005)
A century ago, over 100,000 of tigers roamed across Asia but now only less than 4,000 founded which account for 95% of reduction. Not only its population, the habitat size, territories, and its distributions are dramatically reduced. The image below shows tiger distribution assessment in 1995 which covering 40% of the total area. Today, tiger distribution reduced to 7% of the distribution areas in the past.
Comparison of tiger distribution in the past and present which light yellow represents for tiger’s historic range and green represents for tiger’s present range.
The major threats to the tiger are: firstly, prey depletion which is directly impact to the tiger. Poaching of prey species such as guar, sambar deer, banteng, etc. is intensive in many protected areas in Thailand and result the population depleted that inadequate to support survival of tigers in the wild. Secondly, habitats lose and forest fragmentation is due to human land use and livestock depredation over the protected area. Another principle threat threatens the remaining tigers is poaching. Tigers are killed to satisfy growing demand in the market for home decoration by their beautiful pelts and for their body parts which are used in traditional Chinese medicines and ritual demands for amulets. In some area, the conflict with humans and livestock is also troubling when tigers were forced by the depletion of its territory to reside temporarily in suboptimal habitat at the edge of protected areas where human communities encroached and settled.
The concept to save the tiger is to reduce threats as to increase their chance for reproduction, allow their prey stay away safely from human impacts, and let the forest area restore its own abundance. A successful example found in Nagarahole National Park and other protected area in India. They use the effective strategies such as to strengthen the patrol effort that result the reduction of tiger and prey poaching as well as to compromise and bring conservation awareness and understanding to the communities. The success of the pilot strategy assessed by 400% increment of tiger population along the 30 years passed (1970 - 2005).
The success of strengthening the patrol effort over 30 years (1970 - 2005) resulting in 400% increment of tiger population in Nagarahole National Park, India.
In Thailand, WEFCOM landscape is the hope for tiger reproduction due to its large size and diversity appropriate to home a large tiger population. Especially, the pilot site Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary where WCS’s Tiger Conservation Project, “Tigers Forever”, began and has been extended to Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary, covering and strengthening the core area of WEFCOM.
Relevant Projects & Activities of Tiger Conservation in World Heritage Site Huai Kha Khaeng - Thungyai Naresuan