Asian elephants in Thailand's Western Forest Complex.
The tree-trunk-like legs of a herd of elephants lumber past, a calf tucked amongst them for safekeeping. A tiger and her cubs look up from their nighttime meal, feasting on a fresh-caught prey. These scenes, captured in rare video footage by camera traps in Thailand's Western Forest Complex, show that threatened species can be brought back from the brink.
"[The footage] shows the incredible diversity of species that can flourish once the proper protections are in place. Such rich displays of rare carnivores, elephants, and other forest denizens prove the increased monitoring and protection in the region has paid off," Dr. Elizabeth Bennett of the Wildlife Conservation Society says in a newly released video that includes footage from the Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary within the forest complex.
Footage credit: DNP-Government of Thailand/WCS Thailand Program.
WCS and the government of Thailand have been working together in the country's western forests for more than a decade, jointly training 40 new park rangers early this year as part of a stepped-up effort to protect the region's wildlife from poachers. Thailand has been a leader in anti-poaching efforts, also working with WCS to train park enforcement staff from other Asian countries.
Tiger And Prey Populations Stabilized
The footage obtained this year shows the vast variety of animals, many of them rare, roaming through Thailand's forests: tigers, elephants, leopards, dholes (a wild species of dog), clouded leopards, bantengs (a wild species of cattle), gaurs, sun bears, lisangs, wild boars, muntjacs (a type of small deer), hog badgers, pangolins, green peafowl, and Malayan tapirs. Most hearteningly, it shows that "tiger and prey populations have stabilized in the large core area of the Western Forest Complex," according to WCS, and that elephants have found a safe haven there away from ivory-hunters.
A anti-poaching team on patrol in Thailand's Western Forest Complex.
The Western Forest Complex covers some 18,000 square kilometers, an area larger than the state of Connecticut, and includes 17 contiguous protected areas. It is home to an estimated 125 to 175 tigers and one of the largest and most important elephant populations in Southeast Asia. The Thungyai-Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries, which run along the Myanmar border, contain examples of nearly all forest types found in continental Southeast Asia and 77 percent of the large mammals, 50 percent of the large birds, and 33 percent of the land vertebrates in the region, according to UNESCO.