The total number of tigers now in Myanmar may be less than 50, according to Tin Than, an environmentalist and former officer of the World Wildlife Fund’s International Greater Mekong Programme.
Myanmar has had unknown numbers of tigers in the forest in the past, but the number has gone down year after year due to deforestation and illegal trade of wild animals.
“If someone asks about the number of tigers in Myanmar, I don’t know how others will answer. But for me, I can say that there are less than 50 tigers in Myanmar,” the environmentalist said.
There are very few tigers to be seen in the largest wildlife reserves of Hukaung Valley, Bago Range, Rakhine Range, Shan Plateau, Alaungdaw Kathapa National Park and the forest in Kachin State, according to Tin Than.
“Tiger bones and skin are harvested for medical and personal use. The tiger’s parts are so expensive, and each tiger can cost at least Ks 10 million. Tiger parts were found in Muse and Shweli between 1980 and 1990,” he added.
Myanmar possesses two types of tiger, Indochinese and Bengal. Most of these tigers used to be found in the Hukaung Valley, the Tamanthi Wildlife Reserve, and the Tanintharyi Nature Reserve. But now some guess that they are seen only in the Tanintharyi region.
In 1998, the combined number of tigers in Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam was around 1,200. By 2010, there were only about 350 tigers left in the region. At Kwibari Natural Park bordering Myanmar, the number of tigers has dwindled in recent years from more than ten to only one by last year.