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
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
Some had been injured.
"There was another tiger in Svay
Rieng but that has already gone, maybe to Thailand," Doroshenko said.
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.
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.
"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
It says the military will be used to protect the country's
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
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
Doroshenko's goals for success are ones often
repeated by NGOs: correct laws, more money, and better education for the local