Protecting Tigers in Thailand

by David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation
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Protecting Tigers in Thailand
Protecting Tigers in Thailand
Protecting Tigers in Thailand
Protecting Tigers in Thailand
Protecting Tigers in Thailand
Protecting Tigers in Thailand
Protecting Tigers in Thailand
Protecting Tigers in Thailand
Protecting Tigers in Thailand

Thank you to all of our supporters for helping David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF) protect tigers in the wild.

For administration purposes, we have moved all of our tiger work onto a single page on GlobalGiving which can be found here:

Since its launch, this page has raised over £7,000 for tiger populations and we can't thank you enough for all of your generocity.

Through your help, DSWF is helping to protect wild tiger populations throughout Asia. We fund ground-based tiger conservation initiatives in India, Thailand and Russia, and provide funding for undercover investigations and exposés into the illegal wildlife trade. DSWF also calls for a total ban in all tiger parts and derivatives through the Foundation’s TigerTime campaign.

For more information on our work, please visit:

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Image credit: Freeland
Image credit: Freeland

With the uncertainty surrounding China’s decision on reopening its domestic trade in tiger bones, it’s clear that the threat to wild tigers remains high on the conservation agenda.

DSWF is funding an important tiger project in Thailand where one of the last remaining populations of Indo-Chinese tigers lives. Official estimates suggest that the whole population on mainland Indochina numbers just over 350. Our project partners Freeland are working hard to protect and monitor these tigers in a central forest area of Thailand.

Tigers are one of the world’s most recognisable and popular animals and feature prominently in mythology and folklore throughout history and cultures.

At the beginning of the 20th century, nine subspecies of tiger roamed the Asian wilderness, with estimated populations of over 100,000. 

It’s shocking that in less than 100 years, tigers have lost 93% of their historical range, seen the extinction of three subspecies and now a mere 3,200 remain in the wild. So how has this iconic species declined by 97% in just a century?

Tiger parts and derivatives have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicines for millennia, supporting the belief that they cure disease, replenish the body’s essential energy and they are associated with wealth and traditional culture.

After decades of poaching, tigers were almost entirely extinct in China, which declared ‘a national scarcity’ in 1985. This defining moment led to two key events which further threatened the future survival of wild tigers. Firstly, in 1986 China opened its first commercial tiger farm to try to satisfy consumer demand. Secondly, and as a direct result, the demand for tiger parts skyrocketed.

With the rapid rise in tiger farms throughout China driving demand, poaching levels of wild tigers - seen as a premium product - increased.

As a result of the legal trade, tigers are now on a direct path towards extinction and could disappear from the face of the planet within our lifetime. Our first step must be a complete and comprehensive ban of all captive breeding farms.

Following dramatic population declines and international pressure, the government banned the domestic trade in tiger bones in 1993. But last month China threatened to lift this ban, a decision which was swiftly withdrawn following international outrage.

This uncertainty makes our work to protect rare tigers in Thailand all the more important. Freeland is working in the Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai World Heritage site, which has now been established as only the second breeding population of Indochinese tigers globally. Their work with these tigers is of critical importance for the future of this species.

Your donations are helping to give wild tigers a future on our planet – thank you for supporting our work. Look out for our future updates on how YOU are helping to save this beautiful endangered species.

Click here to find out more about how we are protecting wild tigers.

Image credit: Freeland
Image credit: Freeland


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Image credit: Freeland
Image credit: Freeland

Sadly the future of tigers in mainland Indochina remains dire - according to the IUCN Red List, official estimates place the entire population at just 352.There are now no remaining tiger populations in Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Vietnam and fewer than 200 animals are left in Thailand.

DSWF is funding an important tiger project in Central Thailand where one of the last remaining populations of Indo-Chinese tigers lives.

Your donation enables us to continue to support Freeland, which is working to protect tigers in the Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex.

These magnificent big cats inhabit two distinct forest-complexes - separated by several hundred kilometres of farmland, railways, major highways and towns.

DSWF’s project partner Freeland has been building and improving skills, knowledge and equipment in this area, to protect and monitor one breeding population of tigers in the Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai World Heritage site (DPKY).

Despite declines elsewhere, breeding was documented in this site in 2016, the first time in 15 years. During 2018 all the young tigers were recorded again and have survived – which is fantastic news! Most excitingly, all have established their own territories in parks’ adjoining the core tiger habitat areas.

This is an encouraging picture and thanks in part to YOUR on-going commitment to saving wild tigers. Thank you!

This site has now been established as only the second breeding population of Indochinese tigers globally and DPKY is now, more than ever, of critical importance for the future of this species. Improving protection, monitoring and outreach is critical to ensuring this population is secured and allowed to recover.

DSWF-funded Freeland is working to continue its training of specialist anti-poaching rangers on the ground and to monitor the animals by carrying out tiger surveys to improve knowledge of tiger and prey distribution.

Look out for our future updates on how YOUR donations are helping to save this endangered species.

Click here to find out more about how we are protecting wild tigers.

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Celebrity tigers
Celebrity tigers

Ensuring a safe future for tigers requires a more comprehensive approach than merely fortifying protected areas and limiting poachers access to hunt them. Engaging communities close to tiger habitats helps ensure that local populations understand how intact eco-systems, including all the wildlife that resides in them, are important to their daily lives, writes Tim Redford of DSWF supported Freeland.

Many people dwelling in or near tiger habitats are in constant fear of tigers and what these large predators may do to them, their children, or their domestic animals.

In tiger range countries such as in Southeast Asia - the hunter has become the hunted and the remaining tigers stay as far away from people as possible. As human populations grow the demand for land means settlers are encroaching into tiger habitats and the forest fragmentation is bringing tigers closer than ever to humans.

To develop a better understanding of the importance of tigers and the role they perform in the eco-system Freeland conducts many types of community engagements. These are designed to change the public’s mindset and to foster support from the very people who may otherwise harm or kill tigers.

Through the monitoring of enforcement actions and poacher arrests it is possible to determine where these poachers originate and focus outreach where it is most needed. One solution which Freeland has been using is a ‘poacher to protector’ approach. Violators are offered a chance to receive vocational training, usually in farming, to steer them away from poaching and towards a legitimate livelihood. Small loans are made available to those who have made a pledge to reform and after training they are guided through small-scale farming enterprises, such as organic vegetable or mushroom farming. One person who received such support and abandoned poaching is Ms. Nuan Muanchan (pictured above). After initially receiving support to start a small mushroom farm she was able to save, buy some land and develop it as a mulberry farm.

Ms. Nuan found out that there is demand for mulberries due to its numerous beneficial health properties and in Thailand the leaves are even used as food for silkworms, which produce the renowned Thai silk. Nuan has just started her mulberry farm and is hoping it will turn into a successful self-pick venture where local Thai tourists can walk through and pick their own fruit. Mulberry plants grow very quickly and if well watered produce the delicious fruit year round, providing a long-term sustainable income. Ms. Nuan was not a tiger poacher, but her activities collecting valuable aloewood was causing forest disturbance and the tiger habitat to shrink.

Since Thailand does not have a social security system there are few choices to generate income to survive. Farm labouring for the healthy is seasonal, poorly paid and often the wages are insufficient to support a family. It is common during times of crisis to borrow money from money-lenders at exorbitant interest rates. The repayments sometimes cannot be met, which further indebts the borrower until such time that they can either default or commit a crime to pay off the debt. Loan-sharks know this and encourage villagers to take up poaching, as sometimes the money-lenders are also middlemen who buy poached products.

These are the most common reasons why villagers decide to engage in poaching. This criminal activity is financially lucrative, but its also very dangerous, takes the poacher away from home and could end up with them getting caught, fined or sent to jail.

Given a choice, most people would prefer to have legal work with an honest income rather than engage in poaching. Poachers willing to change are the people that the Freeland outreach team looks for, engages, supports and guides towards protecting the wild.

Your support makes important work like this possible. 



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The Guardian, Boonchai Bach
The Guardian, Boonchai Bach

Aswell as funding professional development and training of anti-poaching techniques for park rangers enabling them to build their capacity to protect wildlife populations, especially tigers, David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation has also been funding critical wildlife protection and wildlife trade investigations, since 2010.

So therefore we were really excited to learn of the arrest of Boonchai Bach  for his alleged involvement in trafficking 14 rhino horns from Thailand to Africa in December.

Boonchai Bach, is known to the police, who claim he is "the ringleader of a major smuggling syndicate" who has been trading in illicit animal parts for over 10 years, he and his family are suspected of selling poached animal parts from tigers, elephants, rhinos, pangolins and lions, to dealers in Laos, Vietnam and China. One of Boonchai's clients is believed to be Southeast Asia's biggest wildlife dealer and this illicit network of regional traffickers has been dubbed 'Hydra'. 

In a statement picked up by the press nationwide, Freeland's Steve Galster said "This arrest spells hope for wildlife. We hope Thailand, its neighbouring countries and counterparts in Africa will build on this arrest and tear Hydra apart."

Thank you for helping us to fund undercover investigations that help keep tigers safe!


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Organization Information

David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

Location: Guildford, Surrey - United Kingdom
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @DSWFwildlife
Project Leader:
Marianne Watts
Guildford, Surrey United Kingdom

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