A century ago, tigers were considered pests in Myanmar. Hunters claimed thousands, yet populations persisted. In the past century, because of habitat loss and prey depletion, coupled with the recent demand for traditional medicines, tiger populations have been reduced to a few hundred individuals. As a first step toward long-term planning for tigers, and to guide efforts to increase protected area coverage, the Myanmar government in 1998 initiated a project to develop a revised National Tiger Action Plan. Extensive surveys confirmed tigers in only 4 of 17 survey locations. Significant populations are thought to persist in the far North and far South of the country, where large, intact forests offer the potential for tiger recovery. With partnerships and collaborations, tiger populations can be protected in the short term (<5 years) by expanding protected areas and corridors, mobilizing enforcement staff to reduce poaching of tigers and prey, and amending existing wildlife legislation in accordance with international laws. Over the long term (5–20 years), recovery of Myanmar’s tiger populations will depend on increasing support from local people, zoning tiger areas to reduce habitat loss and disturbance, and maintaining connectivity of existing national and transboundary forests. This article reviews the development of a new National Tiger Action Plan for the Union of Myanmar and discusses a blueprint for conservation measures aimed at saving tigers from extinction.
Keywords: Tigers - Myanmar - Species recovery - Wildlife management