Sunday, 17 March 2013

Deadly poison threat to tigers

By David Shukman, Science editor, BBC News

Poison is emerging as the latest and most dangerous threat to the survival of the last remaining wild tigers in Thailand.

Poachers targeting tigers for their valuable skins and body parts are turning to insecticide as an easy way to kill the iconic animals.

In what's regarded as Thailand's most important tiger sanctuary, wildlife rangers report mounting evidence of gangs setting traps with fresh meat, laced with poison, as bait.

In one particularly shocking incident, two tiger cubs were found close to death after eating the bait. By the time they had been discovered, it was too late to save them.

Rangers described the frustration of finding the cubs and seeing them in extreme pain but too far gone to be revived.

The two tiny animals had crawled into the bush to die so the poachers had failed to notice them. But they had evidently located the cubs' mother and made off with her body because no trace was seen of her.

 “If we relax our patrols even a little bit, we would lose many tigers to poachers”  Anak Pattanavibool, Wildlife Conservation Society in Thailand

The poachers had shot and butchered an elephant to create a supply of fresh meat for their trap. Before the tigers found it, some of the bait had been eaten by wild dogs, civet cats and even a monitor lizard - and all had died.

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