On February 25th a tiger was killed in Kayin state in southern Myanmar. The juvenile animal came from a protected area in the neighboring Thailand, which currently hosts between 60 and 70 tigers.
Using a database of camera trap images, Thai government and experts from the Wildlife Conservation Society were able to identify the tiger as a male approximately three years old known by scientists as HKT-206M. It was photographed in the Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary last February with its mother (HKT-141F). In another striking image, the tiger was walking past the camera with a pangolin in its mouth.
The tiger is believed to have traveled approximately 170 kilometers (105 miles) crossing the Dawna Mountain range in the transboundary Taninthayi region into Myanmar. The natural range of male tigers is about 300 km2 (115 sq. miles), but the range of transient animals like this one can be much larger.
The tiger was killed after injuring two fishermen in a wetland in Kayin State. When authorities from the Myanmar Border Guard Force and Myanmar Police Force attempted to subdue it, the tiger attacked a soldier and was shot.
Some villagers believed that the appearance of tiger was connected to the spiritual world. Monks stripped the skin off the animal in order to preserve it at the local monastery and cremated the remaining tiger carcass in a ceremony.
A recent study by a team of Thai and international scientists found that tigers in Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary are rebounding thanks to enhanced protection measures. Monitoring of the population from 2005-2012 identified 90 individual tigers and an improvement in tiger survival and recruitment over time.
“This incident is a bittersweet story of a healthy population of tigers dispersing into new areas, then coming into conflict with humans.” said Colin Poole, Regional Director for the Greater Mekong region at WCS, “Because national borders are not boundaries for wildlife, this episode underscores the importance of the transboundary forests of Thailand and Myanmar, and the opportunity for the two countries to work together to manage conservation areas that ensure a future for both tigers and people.”