Name: Indochinese Tiger
Conservation Status: Endangered
Population Estimate: 220
Range: Thailand / Myanmar
Threats: Habitat Loss / Poaching / Illegal Wildlife Trade / Human Tiger Conflict
History, Status and Range:
The Indochinese’s original habitat was a small region of Southeast Asia which included Thailand, Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. However, the Indochinese tiger has not been found in China since 2007, and there is evidence that three other range countries—Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam—have now lost their viable tiger populations.
Research also suggests the tiger is most likely extinct in Laos. This means the remaining population of Indochinese tigers exists mainly – if not only – in Thailand and Myanmar.
In 1970 it was estimated there were over 40,000 Indochinese tigers in the wild. In 2021 the estimated number has dwindled to 220 individuals. However, since the tiger has a very wide range, it makes it difficult for researchers to determine the exact numbers.
The Indochinese tiger, also known as “Corbett Tiger,” is the smallest of the tiger subspecies. It split from the Malayan tiger and has been considered a different subspecies since 2004.
Description and Habitat:
The adult Indochinese tiger males are somewhere between 8-9.5 feet long and females, 7-8.5 feet long. Males weigh 330 to 430 pounds and females, 221 to 287 pounds.
The Indochinese tiger habitat is mostly made up of remote tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests, dry forests and hilly or mountainous terrain. These tigers prefer a mosaic of forest and grassland habitats that maximize their prey density. This habitat also offers cover for the tigers to hunt, breed, and raise their cubs. The Indochinese tiger diet consists mainly of wild pig, wild deer and wild cattle.
Hunting for trophies, poaching by farmers, and the growing demand for tiger bones in Oriental medicine are key factors for the Indochinese tiger’s decline. Habitat loss due to population growth is also a major concern.
However, the primary threat to the Indochinese tiger is poaching for the illegal wildlife trade. It is thought the Indochinese tiger is disappearing faster than any other tiger sub-species with one tiger being killed each week by poachers. According to some reports, almost three-quarters of the tigers killed end up in Chinese pharmacies for Chinese Traditional Medicines.
Tiger farms in Thailand, Vietnam and China maintain the demand for tiger products from all sources—including the wild—and worsen the poaching problem.
Habitat fragmentation due to rapid development should also not be underestimated as an issue. The building of road network an especially serious problem. As is the conversion of suitable habitat for agriculture, forestry, and industrial plantations, which in turn is leaving less food to sustain the already low existing Indochinese tiger population.
The Indochinese tiger is listed on CITES Appendix I since 1993. It has been listed as endangered since 2008.
According to experts, Thailand now plays a critical role in its conservation as there are few known breeding populations in other range countries. Within Thailand, it is said the best hope for the survival of the Indochinese tiger is in the Dawna Tenasserim landscape which is on the Thailand-Myanmar border.
However, it will take controlling poaching and loss of the tiger’s habitat to ensure its survival.
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Opportunity for Thailand’s forgotten tigers: assessment of the Indochinese tiger (Panthera tigris corbetti) and its prey with camera-trap surveys