New tiger species found

By Kaylan Kha

Features Editor

In a discovery that conservationists have dubbed as miraculous, a new population of the rare Indochinese tiger was found in eastern Thailand on March 29. With approximately 350 individuals left in the wild, the Indochinese tiger is considered a critically endangered species.

Camera traps captured footage of at least four females and six cubs, according to a statement made by Thailand’s national parks. These findings have prompted the belief that there is still hope left for the tigers.

“A breeding population here means that the future of this subspecies is less precarious and could potentially expand—tigers here could disperse and repopulate Cambodia and Laos, where no breeding populations persist,” stated tiger conservationist group Panthera on its website.

Attention was brought to this subspecies of tigers in 2010, when the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) reported that population numbers had declined more than 70 percent in a decade.

The Indochinese tigers are now found in only six countries. Poaching for the illegal wildlife trade and deforestation are the main factors contributing to the tigers’ demise.

Efforts to save the tigers are being made by a number of wildlife groups. The WWF is constantly working to improve habitat conditions and survey protected areas.

“The stepping up of anti-poaching patrols and law enforcement efforts in this area have played a pivotal role in conserving the tiger population by ensuring a safe environment for them to breed,” park director Songtam Suksawang said.

This subspecies is necessary to maintaining balance in its own ecosystem, benefitting animals like the Asian elephant and the Asiatic black bear.

The Indochinese tiger is not the only species fighting for survival. There are 16,306 other species being threatened by extinction today as a result of human activities like climate change and habitat destruction.

Humans are currently living through the Holocene Extinction, the sixth mass extinction in Earth’s history. National Geographic reported that the rate at which species are going extinct is now 100 to 1,000 species per million per year.

“In general, scientists are in agreement that we’re at a period of heightened extinction risk and rates,” research scientist Jenny McGuire told National Geographic, “and that’s been occurring nearly since humans have come onto the landscape.”

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