With its diversity of landscapes, Thailand is an ideal habitat for a vast range of flora and fauna. In the 20th century, however, poaching and deforestation led to the extinction of many species, including the kouprey (a type of wild cattle) and Schomburgk’s deer. Some animals are caught for food; some, including gibbons, are sold as pets, while others, like snakes, are killed through fear. Of Thailand’s 282 mammal species, about 40 are endangered, and while laws exist to protect these animals, they are not always enforced. Almost all of Thailand’s large mammals are in danger of extinction, and many others, including the white-handed gibbon, are, at best, rare. This alarming state of affairs is not confined to mammals: ten percent of the country’s 405 reptiles and amphibians are also endangered.
Tigers in Thailand
The increasing demand for dried tiger parts in traditional Chinese medicines has led to the worldwide demise of this great creature. Of the few thousand tigers that remain in Asia, about 500 are estimated to be living in Thailand, particularly in the Khao Yai National Park. In 1995 the Royal Forest Department established a conservation project to try to prevent the tiger from dying out altogether in Thailand.