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For the first time in nearly four years, a conservation group captured images of endangered tigers in a region of west Thailand, renewing hopes that efforts to protect the beleaguered species will pay off.
Panthera, an environmental group that focused on protecting big cats, said earlier this year camera traps captured footage of three young Indochinese tigers. Local lawmakers hailed the images, which include a tiger looking straight into a camera and another of a tiger padding across the screen at night.
The images were captured in partnership with the Department of National Parks in Thailand and the London Zoological Society, and released to coincide with the Global Tiger Day.
"The most important thing here is that they are establishing territory," Kritsana Kaewplang, Thailand's country director of Panthera, told HuffPost.
The biggest threats to tigers remain poaching, mainly for their hides and traditional medicine, and destruction of their habitats. According to estimates, there are still around 160 Indochinese tigers left in Thailand and just over 200 in neighbouring Myanmar. According to Panthera, there are around 3,900 tigers living in the wild worldwide including Bengal and Siberian tigers.
But those numbers are a far cry from the estimated 100,000 tigers who lived in the wilderness a century ago.
Kritsana Kaewplang, Thailand's country director of Panthera, said the group's captured footage is profoundly important to show conservation efforts had worked and resulted in enough sustainable prey to entice wild tigers to expand their territories.
"The most important thing here is that they are establishing territory," Kaewplang said to HuffPost. "If they can, it means they have enough prey and sufficient protections, and a land that supports conservation. We still don't know if they're staying, or if they're going to return to the area they 're from.