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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Tiger farms could cause extinction: World Bank

Tiger farms could cause extinction: World Bank

Experts say the survival of the species 'hinges on China', which enforces a domestic trade ban.

THE World Bank and conservation groups on Thursday urged China to maintain its domestic trade ban on tigers to ensure the survival of the species in countries including Cambodia.

Nicholas Cox, head of the dry forests eco-region section of the Greater Mekong Programme at WWF, an environmental NGO, told the Post that he did not know of any tiger farms in Cambodia, though he said Cambodia was affected by the trade of tigers fuelled by farms in other countries.

"Tiger farming is not such a major concern inside Cambodia so much as the poaching of Cambodian tigers to supply farming facilities in neighbouring Vietnam, Thailand, China and other countries," he said.

The WWF estimates that hundreds of tiger farms hold more than 5,000 tigers in China, more than the 3,500 to 4,000 tigers remaining in the wild across Asia.

Cox said the tiger-farming issue "hinges on China", and that the country's domestic ban on the trade in tiger parts, in place since 1993, should remain in place.

"If it is lifted ... then it will almost certainly spell the end of tigers in the wild," he said.

Although tiger parts were openly displayed in Phnom Penh's markets in the 1990s, the trade has since moved underground, and there are no accurate statistics on tiger poaching in Cambodia, Cox said.

"Unlike elephants, when a tiger is poached there is nothing left behind, making it difficult to know how many tigers are being lost," he said.

Keshav Varma, head of the World Bank's Global Tiger Initiative, said in a statement last week that a ban on the domestic trade of wild tigers was vital to ensuring the survival of the species.

"Extinction is irreversible, so prudence and precaution suggest that the risks of legalised farming are too great a gamble for the world to take," he said.

Ty Sokhun, director of the Forestry Administration at the Ministry of Agriculture, said the government had taken steps to reduce the trade in
endangered animals in Cambodia and that numbers of animals in the wild, including tigers, were on the rise. "Our educational programmes have made people more aware of [the dangers of poaching wild animals]," he said.

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