Myanmar creates world's largest tiger reserve, aiding many endangered Southeast Asian species
Myanmar has announced that Hukaung Valley Tiger Reserve will be nearly tripled in size, making the protected area the largest tiger reserve in the world. Spanning 17,477 square kilometers (6,748 square miles), the newly expanded park is approximately the size of Kuwait and larger than the US state of Connecticut.
After years of illegal hunting and a decline in prey the reserve may hold as few as 50 tigers, yet experts hope with protection the population could bounce back. Although tigers are the star, the park holds many other species including some 370 bird species.
Besides the tiger, which is listed as Endangered by the IUCN Red List, the area contains a number of threatened species, including the Indo-Chinese leopard (Near Threatened), clouded leopard (Vulnerable), Malayan sun bear (Vulnerable), Himalayan black bear (Vulnerable), sambar deer (Vulnerable), a wild bovine known as the gaur (Vulnerable), Asian elephants (Endangered), and the Rufous-necked hornbill (Critically Endangered).
"I have dreamt of this day for many years," said Alan Rabinowitz in a press release. Rabinowitz is the head of the cat-conservation group Panthera and leader of the first biological expedition into Hukaung Valley in 1997. During this expedition Rabinowitz discovered a new mammal: the leaf deer, the second smallest deer in the world.
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