Thailand is located in Southeast Asia and made up of 198,117 square miles. Within this area are six geographical regions, which provide a number of unique habitats like rainforests, mangroves, and mountains. This country is rich in biodiversity, including 300 mammal species, 313 reptile species, 107 amphibian species, and over 1,000 bird species. This article takes a closer look at some of the endangered mammals living here.
Endangered Mammals of Thailand
The kouprey has a large, narrow body with thin legs and long horns. It grows to between 5.6 feet and 6.2 feet in height and weighs between 1,500 and 2,010 pounds. They live in small, female-led herds throughout open forests and grasslands. Their diet consists of grasses and bamboo. It is listed as critically endangered, although it may already be extinct.
The banteng is similar in appearance to the kouprey, although slightly smaller. It grows to between 5 feet 1 inch and 5 feet 5 inches in height. Its weight is generally between 880 pounds and 1,980 pounds. This species can live in herds of between 2 and 30 animals, which can be found throughout open forests. It lives in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam. Its entire population size is estimated to be between 5,000 and 8,000.
Wild Asian Water Buffalo
The wild Asian water buffalo is quite large, weighing between 1,500 and 2,600 pounds and growing to between 5 feet and 6 feet 3 inches in height. They can be found in wet grasslands, swamps, heavily vegetated river valleys throughout Thailand, Cambodia, India, Nepal, and Bhutan. Their diet consists of grasses, fruits, trees, and even some agricultural crops like rice and sugarcane. The IUCN has listed this species as endangered and has a total global population of around 2,500 mature individuals.
The Indian elephant is considered a subspecies of the Asian elephant. Although similar, the two are different in size and appearance. The Indian elephant grows between 6.6 feet and 11.5 feet in height, whereas the Asian elephant is between 7.9 feet and 9 feet. The Indian elephant is slightly lighter in color and the Asian elephant has significant depigmentation across its trunk, neck, and ears. Indian elephants live throughout grasslands, tropical forests, and deciduous forests, where they survive on a vegetarian diet of grasses, tree bark, leaves, bamboo, and fruit. The population of both species has declined by at least 50% over the last 60 to 75 years due to deforestation, which has resulted in habitat degradation and fragmentation. Additionally, these elephants have been hunted and killed, prized by poachers for their ivory tusks. Baby elephants are often taken from their mothers for use in tourism and entertainment industries.
Other endangered mammals of Thailand include the: particolored flying squirrel, Neill’s long-tailed giant rat, bumblebee rat, lesser great leaf-nosed bat, Indochinese tiger, Malayan tiger, otter civet, and ussuri dhole.
Thailand has experienced significant economic and population growth which has led to widespread environmental destruction. Additionally, climate change has been affecting the natural habitats here. All of these changes have contributed to large declines in plant and animal life in this country, as evidenced by the long list of endangered mammals mentioned above. The government has taken steps towards fighting these environmental threats. Recently, Thailand signed the Paris Climate Agreement, promising to reduce greenhouse gas emission by 20% to 25%. Unfortunately, this is not enough to save the lives already lost. International nonprofits have been working in Thailand to reduce instances of poaching for illegal trade and consumption as well as to protect important habitats throughout the country.