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Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre’s beloved tiger dies at 21

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Tigers at Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre. The skin and bones of Jasper, a male Indochinese tiger that died at the centre on August 8, will be preserved and displayed as a museum collection. Wildlife Alliance

Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre’s beloved tiger dies at 21

The skin and bones of Jasper, a male Indochinese tiger that died at the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre (PTWRC) on August 8, will be preserved and displayed as a museum collection, PTWRC director Nhek Ratanapich told The Post on Thursday.

The Wildlife Alliance, a non-profit organisation that cares for the rescued animals at PTWRC, recently announced the passing of Jasper, “affectionately known as Map”, on Facebook.

He is “believed to be the last remaining Indochinese tiger from Cambodia’s forests” when he was “rescued in 1998 from poachers as a cub”, the post said.

Map allegedly died of hunger, as a result of oral cancer. Ratanapich said the tiger had not eaten three days before his demise.

According to the doctor who examined Map’s body, a cancerous tumour in his throat had spread to the tiger’s nose and palate.

After Jasper’s death, three other tigers aged between two and seven remain at PTWRC.

Ratanapich said tigers could live up to 18 years in the wild, noting it was miraculous that Jasper lived beyond the average lifespan of his species.

“We took good care of Jasper. He died of a natural cause. It’s not uncommon for aged tigers to develop cancer,” he said.

Animal Planet, however, said the average lifespan of a wild tiger is 10-15 years.

“But on rare occasion, they have been known to live up to 26 years in the wild,” the American television network said on its website.

Ratanapich said his team was “performing taxidermy to preserve [Jasper’s] skin and bones to be used as a museum collection at Phnom Tamao [Wildlife Rescue Centre]”.

Before living and being cared for in forested enclosures at the government-owned facility, he said, Jasper was held by poachers in Kratie province.

Ratanapich said most tigers that used to live at PTWRC had died of the same cause.

Set over 2,428ha of regenerating forests, PTWRC is the centre for preservation and conservation of around 1,500 animals across more than 120 species, including Asian elephants, tigers, Pileated gibbons, otters, as well as many hoofstock, birds and reptiles.

Tiger (Panthera tigris) is classified as endangered in the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species. In Cambodia, the species is on the brink of extinction.

In 2022, Cambodia is due to import six tigers from India which will be released into the Srepok Wildlife Sanctuary in Mondulkiri province to restore the tiger population in the Kingdom.

In 2007, more than 10 Indochinese tigers were captured by camera trap roaming the lush forest in the province. None have been spotted since.

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