Aug 5, 2010 Darla Sue Dollman
Indochinese Tiger - Ltshears/Wikimedia Commons
Myanmar has announced the creation of the world's largest tiger reserve--the Hukaung Valley Tiger Reserve--to protect endangered species in Southeast Asia.
On August 4, 2010, Myanmar, the largest country in mainland Southeast Asia, announced it has tripled the size of the Hukaung Valley Tiger Reserve, which will make this protected area the largest tiger reserve in the world.
Hukaung Valley Tiger Reserve Originally Created in 2004
According to a recent Associated Press article, the Myanmar government originally dedicated 2500 square miles of the valley in 2004 for the protection of Southeast Asia's wildlife. The newly expanded reserve is now 8450 square miles. The Hukaung Valley Tiger Reserve has been plagued by illegal hunting in years past and officials fear the number of tigers currently living in the reserve has dropped to fifty, but they are hoping that the increase in protected territory will help increase the tiger population.
The Indochinese Tiger and the Hukaung Valley Tiger Reserve
Deep within the Hukaung Valley, the Indochinese Tiger--an endangered species and one of six surviving subspecies of tigers--makes its home. The male Indochinese Tiger averages 8 to 9 feet long and 400 pounds, while the female averages 7 to 8 feet long and 280 pounds. Indochinese Tigers eat wild pigs, deer and cattle. Indochinese tigers can also be found in southern China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Burma, Cambodia and Laos. Because their preferred habitat is remote forests and mountains, it is difficult to track their numbers. According to an article by Jeremy Hance on Mongabay.com, estimates of the number of surviving Indochinese tigers vary widely, from 350 to 2500. As with most endangered animals, the greatest threat to the Indochinese Tiger comes from humans. Gold mining and large-scale agriculture contribute greatly to the tiger's habitat loss. Indochinese tigers are also killed for use in traditional Chinese medicines.
Endangered Tigers and the Hukaung Valley Tiger Reserve
According to Tigers in Crisis.com, worldwide, the tiger's habitat and numbers have been reduced by 95% since 1900. Three of the eight subspecies of tigers have become extinct in the last 60 years. The most recent casualty, the Javan Tiger, became extinct in 1980. There are five remaining subspecies of tigers, including; the Indochinese tiger of the Hukaung Valley; Bengal Tigers; Siberian Tigers; South China Tigers; and Sumatran Tigers. Although the Hukuang Valley Tiger Reserve provides protection for only one of these subspecies of tigers, its role in the survival of the Indochinese Tiger is critical.
Other Southeast Asian Endangered Species Protected by the Hukaung Valley Tiger Reserve
In addition to the Indochinese Tiger and an estimated 370 different birds species, the Hukaung Valley Tiger reserve is home to many other endangered and protected animals found on the IUCN Red List of threatened species. The endangered Asian Elephant and critically endangered Rufous-necked Hornbill live on the reserve. The near-threatened Indochinese Leopard can also be found at the Hukaung Valley Tiger Reserve. The Clouded leopard, which is considered vulnerable to extinction, is another resident at the Hukaung Valley Tiger Reserve, along with the equally vulnerable Malayan Sun Bear, Himalayan Black Bear, Sambar Deer, and the Gaur, which is a wild bovine. As with the Indochinese Tiger, the greatest threat to each of these animals is humans, including destruction of habitat, poaching, and use of many of these animals in traditional Chinese medicines.
Hance, Jeremy. "Myanmar Creates World's Largest Tiger Reserve, Aiding Many Endangered Southeast Asian Species." Mongabay.com. August 4, 2010. Retrieved August 5, 2010.
"Myanmar Triples Size of Northern Tiger Reserve." The Associated Press. Published August 4, 2010. Retrieved August 5, 2010.
"The Plight of Tigers in Crisis." Tigers in Crisis.com. Retrieved August 4, 2010.
© 2010 Darla Sue Dollman
Read more at Suite101: World's Largest Tiger Reserve Created in Myanmar http://news.suite101.com/article.cfm/worlds-largest-tiger-reserve-created-in-myanmar-a270656#ixzz0vt6H6v8c