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Are tigers extinct in Laos?
That's the conclusion of a detailed new study that found no evidence wild tigers still exist in the country.
Illegal wildlife snares in Laos. Bill Robichaud / Global Wildlife Conservation / CC BY 2.0<p>The loss of tigers in Laos was an avoidable, if not unexpected, tragedy. The most recent <a href="https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/extinction-countdown/tiger-populations-increasing/" target="_blank">worldwide tiger population estimates</a>, released in April 2016, put the number of tigers remaining in the country at all of two. The observation of those last two Laotian tigers came from the first year of the camera survey; they were never seen again — except, in all likelihood, by the trappers who killed them.</p><p>"Our team did what we could with our limited resources to conserve the species," said Rasphone. "We did our best despite being defeated by the high international demand in the illegal wildlife trade for this species."</p><p>Their deaths continue the <a href="https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/extinction-countdown/tigers-at-risk/" target="_blank">slow decline of the Indochinese tiger</a> (<em>Panthera tigris tigris</em>). Today their only healthy populations remain in Thailand, which at last count had about 189 wild tigers. The Indochinese tiger (previously considered its own subspecies) also persists at unsustainable levels in China (about 7 tigers), Vietnam (fewer than 5) and Myanmar (no reliable population count).</p><p>Unfortunately, the news of tigers' extirpation in Laos hasn't generated much attention in the country.</p>
A dam in Laos collapsed Monday following heavy rains, killing 26, leaving thousands homeless and confirming worries expressed by environmental groups over the safety of hydroelectric development in one of Asia's poorest countries, Al Jazeera reported.