Cambodia Will Reintroduce Tigers into the Wild in order to Fight Extinction
Cambodia is a country which once contained a healthy population of tigers. Nowadays, however, the species is in grave danger.
Tigers in Cambodia are believed to be functionally extinct, meaning that the population no longer plays a role in the ecosystem due to the fact that there are no remaining breeding populations.
Only 17 years ago, the Cambodian tiger population was believed to be the world’s second largest. The government has now begun looking into a way to bring this back, taking drastic steps to reintroduce the species.
The Cambodian government plans to import 2 male tigers and 5-6 females into the country and release them in the Mondulkiri Protected Forest, the last known location of tigers in Cambodia. They have set aside a budget of $20 to $50 million for the successful project.
The move will be the first transnational tiger relocation in the world and government officials claim that the tigers are likely to come from India, although Thailand and Malaysia are also potential options.
Before the tigers are introduced into the Cambodian ecosystem, the government says it is important to correct the current issues that brought about the near extinction, such as poaching and habitat loss. They will not introduce tigers until this is done, hopefully, by 2020.
Tigers are considered an umbrella species, which means their conservation also helps to conserve many other species living in the area. In addition to this, the reintroduction of tigers into the Cambodian wildlife could increase the country’s eco-tourism, similar to India’s success with tiger safaris.
Next week, representatives from 13 tiger-affected countries throughout Asia will meet to discuss a wide scale plan to double the number of tigers by 2022.
A study completed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources indicated that tigers only occupy 6 percent of their historical territory, a frighteningly small number.