- Thailand police confiscated tiger skin and body parts at a police checkpoint in Mae Sot District in Western Thailand.
- By comparing camera trap photos with those of the confiscated tiger skin, WCS experts have identified the dead tiger: a female last photographed alive in Huai Kha Khaend Wildlife Sanctuary.
- Thailand police have arrested the alleged poacher, who now awaits trial.
Photos captured by camera traps could seal the fate of an alleged tiger poacher in Thailand, WCS announced last Wednesday.
Thailand police have confiscated tiger skin and body parts at a police checkpoint in Mae Sot District in Western Thailand. Since poaching of tigers in Thailand is illegal, proving the geographic origin of tiger parts is crucial to prosecute the accused.
Fortunately, camera traps set up across Thailand’s Western Forest Complex by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) have come to the rescue.
A tiger’s stripe pattern is unique and comparable. By comparing stripe pattern of the confiscated tiger skin with those wild tigers photographed by hundreds of camera traps, WCS experts have identified the dead tiger: a female last photographed alive in Huai Kha Khaend (HKK) Wildlife Sanctuary this year.
The tigress had also been photographed with cubs in some photos earlier this year. The fate of the cubs, estimated to be two years old now, remains unknown, according to the statement by WCS.
Thailand police have arrested the alleged poacher, who now awaits trial. Since, the camera trap photos confirm that the tigress was last seen inside a protected area in Thailand, WCS remains optimistic about a conviction.
“The Wildlife Conservation Society commends the government of Thailand for arresting an alleged tiger poacher for possessing a tiger skin from an animal killed in a wildlife sanctuary,” Joe Walston, Vice President of WCS’s Global Conservation Program, said in a statement. “WCS is confident that the poacher will be fully prosecuted, which will send a strong message to wildlife traffickers that Thailand takes wildlife crime extremely seriously.”
In a previous case in 2011, WCS’s camera trap photos helped Thailand authorities arrest — and eventually prosecute — tiger poachers. The poachers were sentenced to five years in prison, “the most severe punishment for wildlife trafficking in Thailand’s history,” according to WCS.