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Officials move forward on tiger reintroduction

An Indochinese tiger in Mondulkiri province in 2007. This is the most recent picture taken of a tiger in Cambodia.
An Indochinese tiger in Mondulkiri province in 2007. This is the most recent picture taken of a tiger in Cambodia. WWF Cambodia

Officials move forward on tiger reintroduction

A long-discussed plan to reintroduce tigers into the wild in Cambodia appears to be clawing its way forward, as the Ministry of Environment announced yesterday that the Srepok Wildlife Sanctuary in Mondulkiri had been chosen as a habitat.

In a Facebook post, the Ministry of Environment said that officials and conservation groups went to Mondulkiri yesterday with counterparts from India, which would supply the tigers.

A camera-trap study conducted in 2007 found there were approximately 10 to 15 wild tigers left in the Kingdom. The species is considered to be functionally extinct in the country, with poaching and habitat loss linked to the species’ decline.

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An Indochinese tiger in Mondulkiri province in 2007. This is the last picture taken of a tiger in Cambodia. WWF Cambodia

According to the post, the ministry is in the process of developing a plan to ensure the protection of wildlife in the 372,971-hectare sanctuary, which is also connected to the Lumphat and Phnom Prich sanctuaries.

Previously reported cost estimates for the reintroduction plan range from $15 million to $50 million dollars. Of concern for environmentalists is whether or not there will be enough rangers to provide protection for the species.

Noted Indian conservationist Dr K Ullas Karanth expressed scepticism when the plan was announced last year.

“I do not think the required 1,000-2,000-square-kilometer area of prey-rich, people-free and livestock-free habitat is available in Cambodia at this time to seed and establish a viable tiger population,” he told Indian news outlet Live Mint.

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