Rare tiger cubs spotted in Thai jungle

Rare tiger cubs spotted in Thai jungle

(CBS News) - Scientists are hailing the discovery of tiger cubs in a Thai forest as a critical victory in the battle to save the Indochinese tiger.

It's raised hopes that the area could eventually become a stronghold for the sub-species and help re-establish numbers in other nearby areas.

It's believed there are only about 221 Indochinese tigers left in the wild, split between Myanmar and Thailand, and they're under heavy pressure from poachers and habitat loss.

Now sensor-triggered video and photo traps, set up in Thailand's Eastern Forest Complex by the Forest Department and wildlife NGOs Freeland and Panthera, have revealed the presence there of 6 young animals among a population put at around 24.

It is only the second known breeding population of the Indochinese tiger in the world; the other one is also in Thailand.

"This is an important discovery for the sub-species. It represents great progress in protecting these tigers," Freeland's Eric Ash said at a news conference in Bangkok.

"This is a remarkable achievement and is worth celebrating," Ash added.