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Dams threatening Khao Yai’s tigers and Unesco listing, say conservationists

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One of the world’s last remaining habitats for Indochinese tigers is being threatened by dam construction in Dong Phaya Yen-Khao Yai forest complex, the Seub Nakhasathien Foundation said on Friday.

The foundation warned the forest complex would also be removed from Unesco’s world heritage listing if the construction went ahead.

Brought to the brink of extinction by poaching, Indochinese tigers are the focus of a conservation project in the forest complex, which sprawls over 6,000 square kilometres in eastern Thailand.

However, their habitat is now under threat from government construction of the Khlong Wang Mued and Lam Phraya Tarn reservoirs, said the foundation.

"A picture of tigers taken by a camera trap at Thap Lan-Pang Sida Tiger Conservation Centre on May 7 last year is proof of tigers' existence in the forest complex," it said.

The tiger population density in the Dong Phaya Yen-Khao Yai complex is 0.63 per 100 square kilometres, but the DPKY Tiger Recovery Project wants to double that number by 2026.

"The forest complex, on which hope for the restoration of the tiger population depends, is under threat after the government launched the dam construction," the foundation said. It added that tiger footprints were reported in the complex at Prachinburi's Ban Wang Mai on January 18 this year.

"If the construction begins, restoration of the tiger population will not able to meet its target, while Dong Phaya Yen-Khao Yai forest complex will be delisted as a Unesco world heritage site," the foundation said.

Published : April 30, 2021

By : The Nation