Thailand

Thailand Hornbill Photo
Great hornbill
©John Goodrich
Thailand Training Course Photo
A training course for rangers in Kaeng Krachan
©WCS Thailand
Thailand View Point at Haui Khae Photo
Thailand’s tropical landscape shelters some of Southeast Asia’s most charismatic and endangered wildlife.
©WCS Thailand

Thailand’s tropical landscape shelters some of Southeast Asia’s most charismatic and endangered wildlife, including tigers, Asian elephants, Malayan tapirs, clouded leopards, and hornbills. Its diverse array of habitat types range from montane, seasonal, and moist evergreen forests, to deciduous and deciduous-pine forests, to swamps and mangroves. Although most of the country’s remaining forests are fragmented, they are now largely protected in national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. Thailand’s protected area network has been well established over the course of half a century, and remains one of the strongest systems in Southeast Asia.

Fast Facts

  • Some of the best remaining habitat for tigers, Asian elephants, leopards, black bears, and gaurs is found on Thailand’s western border with Myanmar along the Tenasserim mountain range in the Western Forest Complex and Kaeng Krachan National Park.
  • The Western Forest Complex is one of the largest protected area systems in mainland Southeast Asia; its 17 contiguous protected areas cover more than 7,000 square miles.
  • Among Thailand’s endangered and threatened birds are Gurney’s pitta, white-winged duck, green peafowl, rufous-necked hornbills, and crested fireback.
  • The country’s coastal waters and mangroves shelter dugongs and Irrawaddy dolphins.

Challenges

Thailand has the most extensive protected area system in the region, encompassing 60 percent of its remnant wildernesses and 15 percent of the total land area. Unfortunately, many of these habitats are fragmented, which has jeopardized the wildlife populations that reside here. Furthermore, wildlife within protected areas is still threatened by poaching for commercial sale. Cattle herds are also increasingly ranging freely inside protected areas, causing competition with native ungulates. All these pressures pose a particular danger to the long-term viability of tigers and many other threatened species.

Conflicts between humans and wildlife—particularly with elephants—is another challenge to conservation. Human communities that live along many protected area borders often struggle with crop-raiding elephants, sometimes with devastating consequences for both sides.

WCS Responds

WCS is currently working in the Western Forest Complex and Kaeng Krachan National Park, two globally important landscapes for tigers, Asian elephants, and a host of smaller threatened species. At both sites, WCS conservationists are helping the Thai government to improve the protected area system, primarily through aiding law enforcement efforts. By introducing up-to-date equipment and technology, we have helped make significant progress. In fact, the patrol system in Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary in the Western Forest Complex has become a model that the Government of Thailand is expanding into the country’s other protected areas.

WCS has also worked closely with the government in the Western Forest Complex to establish a population monitoring system for Indochinese tigers. The system, which uses remote camera traps to document the tiger population, is the largest of its kind for the species in Southeast Asia.

To address the issue of human-elephant conflict, WCS works in Kaeng Krachan National Park to bring together local communities and national park staff to find solutions that deter elephants from raiding crops. Various methods to mitigate this problem are currently being tested. These efforts have become a good model for other areas in Thailand that grapple with human-elephant conflicts.

From the Newsroom

Fatal Poaching Incident in ThailandSeptember 24, 2013

After a gunfight with poachers on September 13th, two wildlife rangers were killed and two others seriously injured in their efforts to protect the Thung Yai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary.

More Than Hope for Tigers January 10, 2013

After revealing that tigers are roaring back in three landscapes where WCS works, our CEO penned a blog for the Huffington Post relaying his recent trip to India. While there, Dr. Samper observed a wild tigress--whose presence reflects a significant increase in tiger numbers in South India. 


Tigers Roar Back December 24, 2012

Despite dangerously low global numbers, tigers are rebounding in three significant landscapes where WCS operates. Success in India, Thailand, and Russia fosters hope for these iconic big cats.

Jail Time for Thailand’s “Cell Phone” Tiger PoachersMarch 7, 2012

The sentencing of two tiger poachers marks a major turning point in Asia’s war against wildlife crime. WCS helped apprehend the pair last summer after authorities discovered a cell phone with images of a dead tiger.

Rare Footage from a Thai ForestDecember 16, 2011

Video camera traps in Thailand’s Western Forest Complex show amazing scenes of tigers, elephants, clouded leopards and other rare wildlife prowling about, alive and well. The footage offers a hopeful sign for conservationists, whose efforts to save the region’s wildlife are clearly paying off.

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