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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Tigress gives birth to quadruplets at Thai nature reserve

Bangkok - A 7-year-old tigress has given birth to four cubs at a nature reserve in west-central Thailand in the country's largest tiger delivery to date, media reports said Thursday.

Khao Chi delivered the cubs last month in the Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary, which is home to South-East Asia's largest population of wild tigers, the Bangkok Post reported.

"It is unbelievable to experience the astonishing delivery of four tigers at one time," National Parks Department officer Sakit Simcharoen said.

"Usually, a tiger delivers one or two cubs at a time," he said.

The birth has given hope to park officials at Huay Kha Khaeng, 175 kilometres north-west of Bangkok, that they might achieve their ambitious goal of doubling the sanctuary's tiger population by 2022.

The park's wild tiger population of 100 is under constant threat from poachers, who killed three of the animals last month alone.

At a meeting in Hua Hin, Thailand, in January, ministers from 13 countries where Asian tigers are still found in the wild committed themselves to doubling the wild tiger population to about 7,000 by 2022 and protecting their fast-diminishing habitats.

The countries - Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam - are scheduled to meet again for a tiger summit planned for September in Vladivostok, Russia, to map out their plans for saving the species.

There were an estimated 100,000 wild tigers in Asia 100 years ago, but now about 3,500 are left.

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