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Indochinese Tiger


In 2010, WWF sounded the alarm for the Indochinese tiger because the population of this subspecies had fallen by more than 70% in just over a decade. Six countries—Thailand, Cambodia, China, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Myanmar and Vietnam—are now home to only around 350 tigers.

  • Status
  • Population
    around 350 (2010 estimate)
  • Scientific Name
    Panthera tigris corbetti
  • Weight
    396–550 pounds
  • Length
    Average of nine feet from nose to tail
  • Habitats
    Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests, dry forest

The region contains the largest combined area of tiger habitat in the world—equal to roughly the size of France. However, rapid development, such as road construction, is fragmenting habitats. Due to decades of rampant poaching many of the landscapes of this region have no tigers left in them.

There is hope in other remaining Indochinese tiger habitats, which have a relatively low human presence and offer a unique opportunity for tiger conservation. The best hope of the survival of this subspecies is in the Dawna Tennaserim landscape on the Thailand-Myanmar border where perhaps 250 tigers remain. WWF considers the forests of the Lower Mekong a restoration landscape with the possibility of reintroducing tigers as the habitat and prey base are there. Southern Laos and Central Vietnam also have potential for recovery of wild tiger populations.

Access to the areas where Indochinese tigers live is often restricted, and biologists have only recently been granted limited permits for field surveys. As a result, there is still much to learn about the status of these tigers in the wild.

In a blow to wildlife, China lifts a ban on the use of tiger and rhino parts

In an enormous setback for wildlife conservation, China announced it will allow hospitals to use tiger bone and rhino horn from captive-bred animals for traditional medicine. The decision reverses a decades-old ban that has been instrumental in preventing the extinction of endangered tigers and rhinos.

Bengal Tiger in the Ranthambore National Park, India

Why They Matter

  • Maintaining tiger habitats in the Greater Mekong directly benefits a host of other globally important species like Asian elephants, Asiatic black bear, a suite of wild cattle and many endemic deer.


  • Population around 350 (2010 estimate)
  • Extinction Risk Endangered
    1. EX

      No reasonable doubt that the last individual has died

    2. EW
      Extinct in the Wild

      Known only to survive in cultivation, in captivity or as a naturalised population

    3. CR
      Critically Endangered

      Facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the Wild

    4. EN

      Facing a high risk of extinction in the Wild

    5. VU

      Facing a high risk of extinction in the Wild

    6. NT
      Near Threatened

      Likely to qualify for a threatened category in the near future

    7. LC
      Least Concern

      Does not qualify for Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable, or Near Threatened

Indochinese tiger numbers are in shocking decline across its range because of shrinking habitats, expanding human populations, and the increasing demand for traditional medicines, folk remedies and wild meat.

Habitat Loss

While healthy habitats are extensive in some areas they are under constant pressure from agricultural plantations, mining concessions and inundation from hydropower development. Habitat fragmentation due to rapid development – especially the building of road networks—is a serious problem. This fragmentation forces what tigers are left into scattered, small refuges, which isolates populations and increases accessibility for poachers.

Poaching and Illegal Wildlife Trade

Indochinese Tiger Poaching

Vital tiger populations are also depleted by a growing commercial demand for wild meat in restaurants. In the Lower Mekong Forests region—Cambodia, Lao PDR, Vietnam—prey densities are very low due to intensive hunting and weak law enforcement over the past few decades. Wild tigers are also poached in order to meet increasing demand for tiger body parts used in traditional medicine and new folk tonics. Tiger farms in Thailand, Vietnam and China maintain the demand for tiger products from all sources—including the wild—and worsen the poaching problem.

What WWF Is Doing

Indochinese Tiger

In the Greater Mekong region we have an opportunity to double the local wild tiger population by 2022. WWF works closely with government partners to restore tiger populations in areas where tigers were once abundant.

Stopping Poaching and Illegal Wildlife Trade

WWF works to enforce zero tolerance for tiger poaching across Asia. We help create dedicated enforcement units in each landscape and install the best new technologies to help local agencies achieve maximum results. We invest in stronger law enforcement by improving the effectiveness of wildlife rangers, training personnel from enforcement agencies and empowering community patrols and enforcement networks. WWF continues to work with TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, to stop tiger parts and products from being channeled into black markets in Asia.

Protecting Tigers and their Habitats

WWF carries out research and surveys to identify tiger habitat, tiger prey and tiger population numbers. We work to improve habitat conditions so that both tigers and their prey populations will naturally increase. We also train protected area personnel and rangers to carry out surveys, and to effectively manage protected areas where tigers are found.

Working with Local Communities

WWF engages with local authorities and communities living in proximity to tiger areas so that people and tigers can coexist. We also conduct public awareness in Thailand and Cambodia about tigers and the threats they face.

Establishing Tiger Landscapes

WWF actively seeks the establishment of formal protection in areas where tigers are found and still lack effective protection. In Thailand, WWF concentrates its work within the Dawna Tennaserim landscape that shares its borders with Myanmar. In Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, we focus on the Lower Mekong dry forests.


  • Shutting Down Tiger Farms

    Tiger ‘farms’ are captive facilities that breed tigers to supply or directly engage in the commercial trade of tiger parts or products. WWF is calling for greater oversight and protection of all captive tigers

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