The majestic wild tigers have not been found in Cambodia since 2007, leading conservationists to declare the animals “functionally extinct.” The Cambodian government recently approved a $20 to $50 million Tiger Action Plan to try and save the majestic wild cats.
The Cambodia Tiger Action Plan (CTAP) aims to double tiger populations by 2022 – the Year of the Tiger – in keeping with the Tx2 goal set in 2010 by 13 countries. CTAP reinforces the Cambodian government’s pledge to the Tx2 goal and lays out the steps the nation will take to achieve it.
To start, they’ll be working closely with the World Wildlife Fund. Two male tigers and five to six females will be reintroduced to the Mondulkiri Protected Forest. The tigers and their prey will be guarded by law enforcement.
It is estimated that only 3,200 tigers remain in the wild
The Cambodian government has already started talking with other countries, such as India, to source the tigers. If successful, the plan will be the first tiger reintroduction across country borders.
According to the WWF, tiger populations “are at an all-time low,” with a shocking loss of 97 percent of wild tigers in just over 100 years. They estimate that only 3,200 tigers remain in the wild, and other organizations put that number closer to 2,000. Poaching is to blame, as is deforestation – 93 percent of the “historical range” for tigers is gone.
WWF says that tiger reintroduction would benefit ecosystems in Cambodia, and it would benefit people too. Most remaining Southeast Asian tiger habitats are dense and inaccessible, but the Mondulkiri forests are relatively open and would offer an opportunity for tiger tourism if the animals were present.
The 13 countries that hope to increase tiger populations will meet in Delhi this month, at a meeting held by India’s Prime Minister.