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Injured Tigress Returns to Forest After Rehabilitation

A thin, left-eye blind tigress, which had previously wandered out of Mae Wong National Park and onto a road in a Karen village at Moo 18, Khlong Lan Phatthana Subdistrict, Khlong Lan District, Kamphaeng Phet Province on February 16, has returned to the forest in Prachin Buri Province as of June 6.

With the assistance of the Department of National Parks officials, the female tiger, named ‘Balakol’—meaning ‘Khlong Lan’ in Karen language—received treatment for her eye wound, a wound on her left paw, and malnutrition. She stayed for three months at the Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary in Uthai Thani Province, receiving necessary care and rehabilitation.

Mr. Weera Khunchairak, Deputy Director-General of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, revealed that Balakol is around two years old, with a body length of approximately 1.60 meters, a height of 55 centimeters, a tail length of 60 centimeters, and weighing about 105 kilograms. She is considered a fully grown tigress, now in good health, capable of living in the forest, and possessing the instincts of a predator. Consequently, officials decided to release Balakol into the Thap Lan forest.

The decision to release her in the Thap Lan forest was made due to its distance from populated areas and its connection to the abundant Khlong Lan forest, which is part of the western forest complex. This location is expected to help spread genetic diversity and enhance the forest ecosystem’s richness.

Officials have attached a radio tracking collar to Balakol to monitor her movements, ensuring she does not pose a danger to people and to follow her progress in her new environment.

“This tigress is a subspecies found in Southeast Asia, so the prey animals are of the same subspecies. Even though there are tigers in the Thap Lan forest, it is believed that Balakol will be able to adapt. Moreover, tigers are predators and do not naturally prey on their own kind. Currently, officials are closely monitoring to assess whether Balakol can hunt prey and thrive in the Thap Lan forest,” Mr. Khunchairak stated.

The release of Balakol into the Thap Lan forest was attended by several officials, including those from the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, emphasizing the importance of preserving wildlife and maintaining ecological balance.

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