Winning the Rosewood Wars
In the heart of Asia lies the ancient Kingdom of Thailand, a country rich in culture and
biodiversity, its jungles are home of the last remaining habitats for tigers and other critically
endangered wildlife on the edge of extinction.
Thailand is also on the frontlines of the Rosewood Wars, and with it the destruction of entire
Thailand’s unique wildlife, national parks and deep cultural traditions make the country one
of the world’s most beautiful and sacred places. Asian elephants, tigers, gibbons, hornbills,
king cobras and sun bears have flourished here for Millenia.
Constantly under pressure from illegal logging, wildlife poaching, land clearing and illegal
settlement, Thailand has managed to hold its line on biodiversity loss keeping its last few
hundred tigers alive in the process.
Thailand’s national parks and wildlife sanctuaries contain most of the last virgin Siamese
rosewood tracts in the world. In 2010, Thap Lan National Park became a battleground for
rangers trying to stop poaching syndicates cutting down the last Rosewood forests remaining
to satisfy the insatiable demand of China’s wealthy elite for Rosewood beds, chairs and
Without urgent intervention Thailand’s forests were facing annihilation.
Heavily armed multinational syndicates from Cambodia and Vietnam were moving into
Thailand’s protected areas with virtual impunity, threatening Thailand’s very sovereignty.
In 2016, Global Conservation partnered with WCS Thailand to undertake a 4 year Global
Park Defense program to eliminate the illegal logging of Rosewood and Wildlife Poaching in
Thap Lan National Park, one of Thailand’s largest UNESCO World Heritage sites and a
critical habitat for tigers.
With Global Conservation’s support, WCS Thailand worked with the Department of Parks
and Wildlife to deploy Global Park Defense. Using a network of hundreds of real-time
Cellular Trail cameras and SMART Patrolling systems and backed by the Thai military, Thap
Lan National Park was able to track and intercept illegal Rosewood poachers and give the
country a fighting chance to save their forests.
Over the next 5 years the initiative became a major success story and a model for
conservation success in Southeast Asia.
As the illegal logging stopped, so did the poaching of prey species and this led to a steady
increase in tiger numbers and biodiversity across several of Thailand’s world heritage
Thailand is now the only country in Southeast Asia with a Tiger Population that is increasing.
Its wildlife corridors and protection strategies are setting new standards for the rest of Asia,
and the sightings of new families of tigers in Thap Lan National Park and Umphang Wildlife
Sanctuary in Thailand’s Western Forest Complex on the border with Myanmar is giving new
hope for their recovery.
Thailand’s ability to address poaching and biodiversity loss on this level is an uncommon but
promising model on how other countries can use Global Park Defense to achieve meaningful
success in park and wildlife protection in an age of rapidly accelerating threats.
With government leadership, NGO support and technology and systems, Asia’s forests and
their magnificent wildlife can have a viable future.
This is one of many success stories enabled by Global Conservation around the world [map
of all our projects]. To support Global Conservation, see www.globalconservation.org.