BANGKOK • Conservationists have hailed the recent discovery of a new breeding population of tigers in Thailand as a "miraculous" victory for a sub-species nearly wiped out by poaching.
Images of some tigers including six cubs, captured by camera traps in an eastern Thai jungle throughout last year, confirm the presence of what is only the world's second known breeding population of the endangered Indochinese tiger.
The only other growing population - the largest in the world with about three dozen tigers - is based in a western forest corridor in Thailand near the border with Myanmar.
"The extraordinary rebound of eastern Thailand's tigers is nothing short of miraculous," said Mr John Goodrich, the tiger programme director at Panthera, a wild cat preservation group that backed the survey.
The camera trap footage, which shows female tigers and their cubs traipsing through the leafy jungle, was captured with help from the anti-trafficking group Freeland and the Thai park authorities.
221 Estimated number of Indochinese tigers that remain, with the vast majority of them in Thailand and a handful in neighbouring Myanmar.
Only an estimated 221 Indochinese tigers remain, with the vast majority of them in Thailand and a handful in neighbouring Myanmar.
Aggressive poaching, weak law enforcement and habitat loss have combined to render the animals all but extinct in southern China, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, according to scientists.
Tiger farms around the region have also boosted the trafficking trade by propping up demand for tiger parts, which are treasured as talismans and used in traditional medicines popular in China.
Conservationists and park officials attributed Thailand's success story to a rise in counter-poaching efforts over the past few decades.
But they warned that the breeding populations would not thrive without a sustained commitment to busting poachers and taking down the lucrative trafficking trade.