Tigers Declared “Functionally Extinct” in Cambodia

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This week the Word Wildlife Fund declared tigers “functionally extinct” in Cambodia.

Six years ago the 13 countries in which tigers live came together and pledged to double the number of tigers in the wild by 2020. Sadly, these efforts may be too late in Cambodia.

The last tiger in Cambodia was seen in 2007 by hidden cameras in the Mondulkiri Protected Forest. This forest is where they plan to reintroduce tigers into the wild in order to inflate their population. Keo Omaliss, director of the department of wildlife and biodiversity at the Forestry Administration spoke with the guardian about the plan, calling it a “huge task.”

According to the World Wildlife Fund the tigers have been disappearing due to intensive poaching of both them and their prey. Their statement said, “Today, there are no longer any breeding populations of tigers left in Cambodia, and they are therefore considered functionally extinct.”

The plan, which is going to cost between $20 and $50 million, will attempt to reintroduce at least two male tigers and five to six female tigers into a chunk of the forest. This area will be highly protected against poachers by law enforcement.

The good news is researchers announced last week that deforestation has been lower than expected in tiger habitats, so there is plenty of space to reintroduce tigers and have them come back from the brink of extinction.

Next week officials from all 13 countries – Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam – will meet to discuss further action plans to hopefully save tigers in all of their countries.

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