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Tiger is our neighbor: forest-to-city efforts to save the wild big cats

A new tiger learning center ‘Sor Seua Witthaya'

With less than 200 Indochinese tigers left in the Thai forest, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Thailand and B.Grimm have further consolidated joint efforts to safeguard the remaining big cats in Khlong Lan and Khlong Wang Chao national parks, part of the Western Forest Complex, which serves as the country’s tiger conservation landscape.

On 15 October 2020, a new tiger learning center called ‘Sor Seua Witthaya’ (a Thai word ‘Seua’ means a tiger while ‘Witthaya’ is knowledge), which aims to raise awareness about tiger and wildlife conservation among young students, was officially opened for kids studying at Anuban Khlong Lan School and those living in the buffer zone of the Khlong Lan National Park in Khlong Lan district, western province of Kamphaeng Phet province.

The learning center can be used to organize additional curriculum activities on natural resource conservation and serve as a classroom for the general public to learn more about tiger and wildlife conservation.

Dr. Rungnapa Phoonjampa, WWF-Thailand Mae Wong and Klong Lan Project Manager has stressed the need for more tiger learning centers in other protected areas as they have the potential to attract more conservation-minded local people.

“Sor Seua Witthaya Learning Center serves as a model of wildlife conservation. It will not only emphasize the importance of conservation efforts, but also develop a strong sense of empathy and compassion towards wild animals among the kids. We are planning to set up another tiger learning center near Mae Wong National Park and other national parks in the near future in order to expand conservation networks,” said Dr. Rungnapa.

In Thailand, saving Indo-Chinese tigers has been an ambitious task – attracting the public and private sectors, local and international NGOs and community leaders. Tiger populations in Thai forests, sadly, have dropped significantly over the past decades due to three main factors – diminishing natural habitats, hunting and a shortage of viable prey.

Besides the opening of the tiger learning center, WWF Thailand has also supported tiger conservation by building a SMART Patrol Monitoring Center at Khlong Wang Chao National Park, which is about 80 kilometers away from Khlong Lan National Park and is home to the country’s remaining tigers.

The handover ceremony took place on 16 October 2020 and was presided over by Dr. Arnold Sitompul, Conservation Director at WWF Thailand.

The newly-launched center, supported by the DNP, WWF Thailand and B.Grimm, will enable park rangers to use digital mapping and geographic information system (GIS) technology to monitor areas more effectively. A video conferencing system was also set up for rangers to relay the information to a central computerized database to be analyzed.

The smart patrolling system has been introduced to Thai forests a decade ago and as of now has covered 213 protected areas in 19 forest groups nationwide. In recent years, however, endangered tigers have left tracks in the Thai forests, including Khlong Lan and Mae Wong national parks.

Over the past years, WWF Thailand has helped protect tigers and their habitat through monitoring and research, camera trap studies, the smart patrolling system and recovery of tiger preys which are considered key factors in boosting the tiger population in the Western Forest Complex. With great support from all sectors, the tiger conservation efforts continue for the foreseeable future to save the remaining wild tigers in Thailand.
Tiger Learning Center in Klonglan-Thailand