Tiger campaigners mourn British victim of air crash

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CONSERVATIONISTS are mourning the death of a leading British environmentalist who died in the plane crash in southern Thailand last week.

Mark Graham was regarded as a tireless crusader in the battle to save Thailand's rapidly shrinking tiger population. Hundreds of conservationists are expected to attend his Buddhist funeral. He was one of two Britons confirmed by the Foreign Office to have been killed in the crash of a Thai Airways Airbus near the southern town of Surat Thani on Friday.

A special memorial service was due to go ahead last night for the 58- year-old environmentalist. He is to be buried with a Twix chocolate bar, a bottle of wine and his favourite sarong.

"My husband didn't give up what he called the desperate race to help preserve Thailand's remaining natural landscape for this and future generations," said his wife, Channipha.

Mr Graham, a former British soldier who fought in the jungles of Malaysia, had lived in Thailand for 30 years. He wastravelling from Bangkok tomake a documentary for CNN's Discovery Channel.

Mr Graham gave up his job as a company executive in the 1980s to devote himself to the environment. He pioneered the use of "camera traps" to conduct a census of the Thai tiger population, which is about 3,000.

The other Briton killed onFlight TG261 was Philip Beasley, whose body was to be flown home yesterday. Five of the victims have yet to be identified; two may be British. The sole British survivor, David Wilson, was in a "satisfactory" condition in hospital yesterday.

Experts from five South Asian countries met in Nepal on Sunday to try to find a way to save the tiger. Government officials and expertsfrom Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Burma and Nepal, and the Worldwide Fund for Nature are seeking to improve co-operation. There are only thought to be 7,000 wild tigers left, at the turn of the century there were an estimated 100,000.At the turn of the century, there were an estimated 100,000 tigers in the wild. Now there are a maximum 7,000, the most common of which is Royal Bengal at around 5,000. The Bali, Javan and Caspian tigers have all become extinct in the last 70 years.

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