Rays of hope for our tigers

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  • Rays of hope for success of tiger conservation in upper Chindwin area are shining with new tiger babies being captured on camera traps.
    With the help of 100 camera traps, research to survey the habitats of tigers and their prey were carried out in northern and southern Myanmar as part of efforts for conservation of iconic species, which are now at a critical crossroads, facing numerous threats to their survival.
    There are two tiger species in Myanmar: Indian (or) Bengal tigers and Indo-China tigers. Htamanthi Wildlife Sanctuary is also a natural habitat of Indian (or) Bengal tigers.
    Tigers were once widespread in Myanmar, to the point that they were considered a serious risk to rural travellers in the 1800s, areas even close to what was then Rangoon.
    Today, tigers are spotted in northern and upper Chindwin area and Taninthayi mountain range in southern Myanmar.
    Current estimates for the number of the animals are plagued with a lack of systematic data, but recent official estimates put it at no more than 3,200 left in the wild across 14 ‘range states’.
    While at one time tigers may have been at risk from reprisal killings from villagers defending their livestock or families, today the hunting is mostly driven by the illegal wildlife trade — a multi-million dollar industry fuelled by demand for meat, medicines, skins and other tiger products.
    Gold mining in the Hukawng Valley Tiger Reserve, the world’s largest tiger reserve, is blamed for devastating the tigers’ habitat.
    The Hukawng Valley Tiger Reserve covers 21,890 square kilometres. The Myanmar government has also designated 6,500 square kilometres of the valley as a protected forest reserve.
    Myanmar, which is home to a rich variety of habitats and ecosystems, including 14 terrestrial eco-regions supporting 233 globally threatened species, has seen more cases involving the trade of elephant parts than other wildlife.
    Within a 20-year period from 1994 to 2014, millions of tons of hardwood in the country were lost through illegal logging, as well as rare wildlife such as elephants, bears, tigers, leopards, peacocks and snakes, all of which fall prey to poaching. Hunting targeting tigers to supply the market demand in neighbouring countries is causing hindrances to the tiger conservation in Myanmar. The fight against wildlife trading should be effective. Otherwise, it would just cause an increase in prices of animal parts in the illegal markets.
    We can realistically put an end to tiger destruction only through joint efforts between the government, international and local NGOs and many local groups and community members.
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