A REPORT released this week calls for a more targeted approach to preserving the global tiger population, identifying 42 sites where the animals might be bred most effectively, none of which are in Cambodia.
The report, produced by the Wildlife Conservation Society and published on Tuesday in the online journal PLoS Biology, draws mainly from data provided by researchers and conservation groups, and contends that broad-based conservation efforts currently in place have failed to prevent the tiger population from decreasing.
“Current approaches to tiger conservation are not slowing the decline in tiger numbers, which has continued unabated over the last two decades,” the report states.
The report estimates that there are 3,500 tigers worldwide, and lists sites in India, Indonesia and Russia as the best places on which to focus efforts to bolster this figure.
There is no evidence that breeding tiger populations exist in Cambodia, according to the report.
Right now, how can you say there are no more tigers?... Some of the places you can’t access....
But Emma Stokes, regional tiger monitoring coordinator for Wildlife Conservation Society Asia, said that even though none of the 42 target sites listed are in Cambodia, the Kingdom could still play a role in preserving the species.
“The report does not say that Cambodia is not a feasible place to reproduce tigers,” Stokes said yesterday.
“On the contrary, Cambodia is fortunate in having large areas of good tiger habitat remaining, most of which is protected, that can potentially support important tiger populations.
“What the report says is that Cambodia does not currently meet the criteria that the authors set out for a source site in this paper.”
Last month, WCS country programme director Mark Gately said estimates of Cambodia’s tiger population ranged from “zero to 10” tigers in the eastern plains, an area spanning Ratanakkiri and Mondulkiri provinces in the northeast.
“Information across Cambodia isn’t complete, but the general consensus is that there isn’t a breeding population in Cambodia,” Gately said.
But Sun Hean, deputy director of the Environment Ministry’s Forestry Protection Department, said yesterday that he believed the tiger population in Cambodia was “at least 100”.
“Right now, how can you say there are no more tigers?” said Sun Hean, who is also a legal adviser to the conservation NGO Wildlife Alliance.
“Look at the landscape – there are almost 200 million hectares, some places you can’t access, there are waterfalls.... I think more research should be conducted before we conclude that there are no more tigers in Cambodia.”