Camera trap helps catch tiger poachers in Thailand

Police in Thailand nabbed several tiger poachers, thanks to evidence that turned up on a camera trap.

It all started when tiger skins and body parts were found at a police checkpoint in Mae Sot District in Western Thailand.

Authorities along with experts from the Wildlife Conservation Society then went back to images that had been collected on camera traps from the Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary, where they suspected the tiger might have come from. Alas, they found that the pattern on a female tiger caught on camera with her cubs matched that of the confiscated tiger skin.

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The poachers have since been arrested and there is no information on the whereabouts of her cubs whose age has been estimated at 2-years-old.

“Thailand continues to show a strong commitment to conservation and management of its protected areas. WCS’s Joe Walston, vice president of global conservation, said in a statement. “WCS is confident that the poacher will be fully prosecuted, which will send a strong message to wildlife traffickers that Thailand takes wildlife crime extremely seriously.”

Related: Thai elephants now being poached for human consumption

Thailand, which is a key transport hub for illegally poached ivory, has long struggled to address the poaching problems within its borders mostly for tigers but also for endangered reptiles, primates and elephants. Some of the illegally caught animals can easily be found in markets in Bangkok and other cities or transported to places like China.

In 2011, authorities in Thailand arrested and eventually prosecuted poachers who killed a tiger and took pictures of it on their cell phone.  WCS camera trap images eventually proved the tiger was killed in a protected area.