when protecting tigers faces tourist exploitation

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Thailand is one of the few Asian countries where tigers are still present. But between protection and animal exploitation, the country does not seem ready to make a choice.

In Thailand, the tiger population continues to increase. In Huai Kha Khaeng National Park (Thailand), 21 teams of rangers are responsible for protecting the tigers. “Each team must let them know where there are tiger tracks. This allows us to determine specific areas where we need to increase our patrols to better protect the species”, explains Boonlert Boonjaidee, officer. 500 cameras are also used to spot poachers. Thanks to patrols and cameras, the number of tigers has nearly doubled since 2010, to over 80 by 2022.

In the tourist areas of the country, such as Pattaya, it is a completely different reality. In the heart of the city, an amusement park is entirely devoted to tigers. Tourists can be photographed alongside the felines. Here, the animals are treated like pets: their claws are filed down, they are born in captivity and reproduce in the park. Several establishments of the kind exist today in Thailand. “Animal exploitation (…), purely for money”says Edwin Wiek, founder of the Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand, who recalls that for barely 200 wild tigers in Thailand, more than 2,000 live in captivity.

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