Following the lead of other countries that have reintroduced near-extinct predators in recent years (like grizzly bears and wolves in the U.S.), Cambodia tigers are the next animals with plans focusing on their reintroduction in eastern Cambodian forests.
Cambodian tigers are considered to be “functionally extinct.” A tiger has not been seen in the country since 2007, and that sighting was only through a camera. While there may still be a few tigers roaming through the forests, there does not appear to be a breeding population of tigers.
The southeast Asian country used to be home to dozens of the big cats. Extensive poaching of both the tigers and their prey has drastically reduced the tiger population to the point of near extinction. Deforestation has also strained wild tiger populations throughout the region.
A new plan has been announced to reintroduce tigers to Cambodian forests. The plan calls for setting aside habitat for the tigers, taking steps to make sure the tigers have adequate prey, and stepping up law enforcement to deter poachers.
The tiger plan calls for reintroducing two male tigers and as many as six female tigers to get things started. Talks are underway with several other southeast Asian countries in the hopes of acquiring donor wild tigers.
Needless to say, a project like this does not come cheap. The government will need to cough up between $20 million and $50 million, based on the current estimates.
Meanwhile, other countries that still have wild tiger populations are also developing plans to increase the number of the animals. These countries include Vietnam, Thailand, Russia, Nepal, Myanmar, Malaysia, Laos, Indonesia, India, China, Bangladesh and Bhutan. Representatives from each of the countries are working together to meet the goal of increasing tiger populations.