(Park rangers seize illegal wildlife parts, weapons, and other equipment from poachers in Thailand's Western Forest Complex.)
(A pair of elephant tusks, evidence that the poachers were ivory traders as well as tiger poachers.)
Two of the individuals were later arrested, and are suspected of illegally killing 10 tigers in the region. Tigers, which are native to eastern and southern Asia, are endangered throughout their ranges. Hunting and destruction of habitat have reduced tigers to less than 2,500 mature breeding animals, by some estimates.
The two aprehended tiger poachers are part of a large crime ring that Thai authorities have been monitoring. A third poacher was tracked to his home, but he escaped.
When confronted with "trophy" images of themselves posing over the dead tiger, the suspects claimed the big cat was poached in Myanmar in 2003. According to WCS Thailand staff, however, the tiger (identified by its unique stripe patterns) was a well-known male tiger that researchers had tracked with camera traps in Thailand for at least three years between 2008-2011. The database of tiger images not only helps researchers understand the ecological needs of tigers, but it also gives law enforcement an important resource in successfully prosecuting illegal hunters.