Tigers in the Greater Mekong region

The largest combined wild tiger habitat on Earth is found in the forests of the Greater Mekong region. Covering 540,000 km2, these forest habitats are priority areas for tiger conservation efforts.

Today, as few as 350 endangered Indochinese tigers prowl the forests of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, down from around 1,200 in 1998.

WWF is taking action to ensure that wild tigers never go extinct in the Greater Mekong region.
Thailand
The Western Forest Complex, a 18,000-km2 area that is part of the Kayah Karen Tenasserim ecoregion, has the largest number of tigers in Thailand, and probably in all Southeast Asia.

Cambodia
Cambodia’s wild tiger population is estimated to be no more than 30. But recent recovery of prey populations and forest protection make the country’s Eastern Plains a critically important potential site for restoring endangered wild tiger populations.

Vietnam and Laos
There are possibly as few as 30 wild tigers each in Vietnam and Laos. They are confined to the evergreen forests of the Northern Annamites in Laos and Vietnam, and the Dry Forests/Central Annamites landscape in Southern Laos and Central Vietnam.

Why are tigers threatened?

  • Poaching to meet increasing demand for tiger body parts used in traditional medicine. Poaching of wild tigers is worsened by the increase in tiger farms in the region, especially in Thailand, Vietnam, and China, which maintains the demand for tiger products from all sources (including the wild).
  • Habitat fragmentation from unsustainable infrastructure development. As roads and other projects separate forests into smaller isolated patches, this makes tigers more vulnerable to poaching.
  • Poaching of tiger prey wildlife to satisfy a growing commercial demand for wild meat in restaurants and for use as traditional medicines.

How is WWF protecting tigers in the Greater Mekong region?

The WWF Greater Mekong Programme Office is active in 4 out of the 13 tiger range states (Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam). These countries contain the largest combined area of tiger habitat in the world.
  • Carrying out research and surveys to identify tiger habitat, tiger prey and tiger population numbers
  • Improving habitat conditions so that both tigers and their prey populations will naturally increase
  • Training protected area personnel and rangers to carry out surveys, and to effectively manage protected areas where tigers are found
  • Actively seeking the establishment of formal protection in areas where tigers are found but where they still lack effective protection
  • Engaging with local authorities and communities living in proximity to tiger areas so that people and tigers can coexist
  • Public awareness-raising across the Greater Mekong’s tiger range states about tigers and the threats they face

The global wild tiger population is at an all time low of 3,200, down from an estimated 5,000-7,000 during the last Year of the Tiger in 1998.

However, given the chance—enough space, enough prey, enough protection—wild tiger populations can recover.
 / ©: WWF
Tiger landscapes in the Greater Mekong
© WWF
Our regional work contributes to WWF’s global targets for saving tigers:
  • To double the number of wild tigers by 2022
  • To ensure that tigers roam in at least 20% of their former range by 2020
  • To ensure that tiger conservation becomes political priority and leads to significant action by 2015
  • To eliminate trade in tiger parts by 2020
What WWF is doing for tigers in the region

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