Year of the Tiger
A hundred years ago there were tens of thousands of tigers across Asia, from the Black Sea to the Pacific and from Siberia to the Indian Ocean. Today there are only a few thousand left in ever-shrinking enclave. Myanmar is one of 13 countries where tigers still live in the wild. In the 19th century, tigers were plentiful in the country. They even lived on the outskirts of Rangoon and were spotted so often that one road was called Tiger Alley (today U Wisara Road). In 1903, British soldiers shot a tigress who had wandered onto the Shwedagon pagoda.
Since then, tiger populations have fallen dramatically, due to hunting and loss of habitat. In 2019, the Myanmar government confirmed a minimum number of 22 tigers; the data came from camera traps used in just 8 percent of tiger habitat over the preceding three years. More tigers are believed to be living in the Hukawng Valley and Tamanthi wildlife reserves and in the Tennasserim hills. The Tenasserim range, including forests on the Thai side of the border, is considered one of the last tiger strongholds in the Greater Mekong are. However, unless more is done to stop the illegal trade in wildlife and poaching, they will very soon disappear forever.