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Cambodia aims to revive tiger population with imports from India

The initiative marks an ambitious effort to revive a species declared "functionally extinct" by the country

Cambodia aims to revive tiger population with imports from India
[Source photo: Chetan Jha/Press Insider]

Cambodia is planning to import four tigers from India this year, in hopes of restoring its lost population of big cats, a media report said.

This initiative, announced by an environmental official on Monday, marks an ambitious effort to revive a species declared “functionally extinct” in the Southeast Asian kingdom since 2016, AFP reported. 

Once teeming with Indochinese tigers, Cambodia’s dry forests fell victim to rampant poaching, decimating the tiger population. 

The last tiger of Cambodia was captured on camera trap in 2007, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). 

As part of a 2022 agreement with India, Cambodia is set to receive one male and three female tigers by the end of 2024. These cats will undergo a period of acclimatization in a specially designed 90-hectare forest within the Tatai Wildlife Sanctuary before being released into the wild.

The government official did not share any details about the species of tigers that are going to be imported.

Extensive preparations are underway, however, with over 400 cameras being installed across the Cardamom Mountains reserve to monitor wildlife, particularly the tiger’s prey base of deer and boar. This information will be crucial for successful tiger breeding. 

This initial introduction is just the first step as Cambodia plans to import twelve more tigers over the next five years if the project goes over smoothly. 

Deforestation and poaching have pushed tigers across Asia to the brink. Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam have lost their native populations entirely, with only an estimated 23 tigers remaining in Myanmar. 

On the other hand, dedicated conservation efforts aimed at its tiger population have led to a remarkable turnaround in India. As of last year’s government data, its wild tiger population exceeds 3,600, making it home to over three-fourths of the world’s tigers.

The success of this project could pave the way for similar initiatives across Asia, offering a vital lifeline to the endangered tiger.

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