Phnom Penh (EFEverde).- The majestic tiger might soon return to prowl the jungles of Cambodia through a program announced by the government Wednesday as part of a global initiative to restore the population of this Asian mammal in the world.
The head of the department of fauna of Cambodia’s Forestry Administration, Omaliss Keo, said at a press briefing in Phnom Penh that the ministry of agriculture, forestry and fisheries approved the initiative two weeks ago and are currently in the process of analyzing where to implement it.
They are considering two locations; one in the dry forests in Mondulkiri Province in the eastern part of the country and the Cardamom Mountains in southwestern Cambodia.
“We have to strengthen law enforcement in these areas, raise awareness, investigate the habitat of the tigers and their prey and collaborate with the security forces of other countries,” Omaliss Keo explained.
The program will cost between $12 million to $15 million, part of which will be covered by the government and the remaining through donations.
“A tiger can bring in $15 million during his lifetime in tourism, according to data by India and Nepal, who are the main countries with tiger ecotourism in Asia,” said Suwanna Gauntlett, founder of the nonprofit Wildlife Alliance.
“It is not a zoo attraction, it is a tiger in the wild,” she added.
The World Wildlife Fund, or WWF, said the repopulation could be carried out through an agreement with India to move two male and six female tigers to Cambodia in 2017.
The Cambodian authorities hope to release the first tiger in 2022, 15 years after the last tiger was spotted in the wild in the country.
The Global Tiger Initiative, an alliance of governments, companies, international agencies and civil societies formed in 2008 and of which Cambodia is a member, pledged in 2010 to double the population of tigers in the world by 2022.
Poaching is one of the main reasons behind the disappearance of the tiger in Cambodia and has decimated the population of many other species, including the sun bear, the Irrawaddy dolphin and the Asian elephant.
Cambodia recorded the world’s highest deforestation rate between 2000 and 2014 and is ranked ninth in terms of forest loss, according to a study by the World Resource Institute. EFE