(slow bright music) – [Narrator] A century ago 100,000 tigers roamed the earth. Today those numbers have declined to just about 4,000. But in the forest of Eastern Thailand, conservationists have found new signs of hope for this iconic species. This Great Big Story was made possible by B. Grimm, empowering the world compassionately. (birds twittering) Until recently it was believed that the Eastern forests of Thailand didn’t have enough wild tigers to maintain a breeding population. But a group of conservationists led by Panthera, the Thai department of National parks and the Freeland Foundation went out into the jungle to find out for themselves.
We set up around 83 stations of cameras. Each station has two cameras. The general goal of setting up the camera trap grid was to estimate how many tigers are there. What potential is there for them to recover in that area. Camera trapping is always fun ’cause you have these cameras out for 45, 60 days in the field. And they’re out there every day taking pictures, so you bring them back and you’ve got you know lots of people looking at all the photos. Clicking through what’s next, what’s next, what’s next. And we discovered that we have a breeding population of tigers there. This is kind of the first evidence of breeding for at least I think a decade.
It’s a really amazing thing to have been able to see and to document. Tigers are a symbol of a healthy intact ecosystem. To have tigers disappear from the wild, especially when we have the means to stop that from happening, would be an absolute tragedy. So although the survey results are great news we really do need to keep the pressure on. I mean there’s the threats aren’t necessarily abating at those areas. So the good work that’s continuing with patrolling on the ground, law enforcement, working on trying to give tigers a chance to breed to have the area they need to persist is really important.