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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - World Park proposers caring for tigers and other confiscated animals

World Park proposers caring for tigers and other confiscated animals

A FEMALE tiger now caged in the front yard of a Western NGO's house was

suffering from malnutrition when taken from the governor of Kompong

Speu.

After two months it is now sleek and healthy, but too tame to live

in the wild. Another tiger and two bears owned by the governor had "gone" by the

time the Society for Ecology and Wildlife Preservation took the two-year-old

tigress, on orders from the Ministry of Agriculture.

"We are up to our

maximum," Russian biologist Nicola Doroshenko said of the 150 rare and

confiscated animals they care for in less than ideal conditions at a new

zoological park in Phnom Ta Mao, outside Phnom Penh. They have bears, monkeys, a

four-month-old tiger, rare birds such as cranes and native parrots, and deer and

reptiles.

Some had been injured.

"There was another tiger in Svay

Rieng but that has already gone, maybe to Thailand," Doroshenko said.

In

their Phnom Penh headquarters they have a tiger, and other animals such as an

eagle and a giant horn-bill.

The society has sole rights from the

ministry to care for animals seized at the borders to Vietnam and Thailand "and

we are going to get more and more," Doroshenko said.

The animals might

have found their way to Russia and China and beyond. A tiger can fetch $10,000,

either live or for Chinese medicines and potions.

The society gets its

funding from a private American corporation but money is running out and society

founder Marshall Perry says he has approached the UNDP for more.

The

four-month-old society was asked by the Ministry of Environment to study

national parks but they found, for instance, that Ream national park had two

lumber mills on site. "We felt that any effort to help the environment in

Cambodia would be futile in the short term if the government keeps moving in

this direction. There would be nothing to preserve," Marshall said.

In an

"act of desperation" to promote government awareness, Perry submitted a proposal

to turn the entire country into a World National Park, and the government is -

according to Perry - taking it seriously.

The plan says "the World" will

be indebted to Cambodia for making "this bold sacrifice" and will "flock... to

support and fund the intitiative". It says UN funding would be

guaranteed.

It says the military will be used to protect the country's

natural resources.

Perry said that he had discussed the proposal with

Co-Minister of the Council of Ministers, Sok An, and after council approval a

feasibility study would begin.

"We are asking them to do something a bit

novel... but if it is profitable for them, I think they would [accept]," he

said.

Meanwhile, caring for seized animals, providing medicines, cages,

food and training for keepers, was being done on a "piece of land that the

Ministry of Agriculture had. In February they said 'lets build a zoological park

here'. There are no trees for shade. It is not the best location but it's better

than nothing," Marshall said.

It is difficult to know what happened to

seized animals in the past. Marshall said they were either released or "dealt

with unprofessionally."

Doroshenko's goals for success are ones often

repeated by NGOs: correct laws, more money, and better education for the local

population.

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