Posted on 06 April 2016
Phnom Penh, Cambodia – 06 April 2016 – WWF congratulates The Royal Government of Cambodia on its approval of the Cambodia Tiger Action Plan (CTAP), a critical step toward reintroducing tigers into the country.
The Cambodian Tiger Action Plan (CTAP) is a species management plan written by the Royal Government of Cambodia as part of Cambodia’s commitment to the global goal of doubling tigers by the year 2022. The plan identifies the Eastern Plains Landscape of Mondulkiri province as the first priority site for tiger restoration.
Historically Cambodia's dry forests in the Eastern Plains Landscape supported diverse and abundant wildlife, including a large number of tigers - however, intensive poaching of both tigers and their prey led to a rapid decline in the big cats. The last tiger was seen on camera trap in the Mondulkiri Protected Forest in 2007. Today there are no longer any breeding populations of tigers left in Cambodia, and they are therefore considered functionally extinct. As such the Cambodian Tiger Action Plan recommends tiger reintroduction. This would be the world’s first transnational tiger reintroduction and will be based on best practices developed from successful tiger reintroductions within India.
The CTAP has been two years in the making and considers the social, economic and cultural benefits and consequences of reintroducing tigers into Cambodia. The plan has been produced according to the global objective of doubling the number of tigers worldwide (Tx2).
“We are committed to reintroducing the iconic tigers into their historic range of the Eastern Plains Landscape in Cambodia and CTAP is a big step in the right direction for this goal. We appreciate the support of WWF and together hope to see the tigers return to Cambodia," Dr Keo Omaliss, director of the department of wildlife and biodiversity at the Forestry Administration.
The Tiger Reintroduction Plan in Cambodia shows the Royal Government of Cambodia’s commitment to the global goal of doubling tigers (Tx2) by the year 2022 – the next Year of the Tiger. WWF is fully committed to support the Government in this conservation effort. Tx2 is achievable, but only with the full commitment from the tiger range countries. The approval of CTAP by the Cambodian Government signifies their commitment to reach this goal by 2022.
Tigers are one of the most iconic species on the planet, yet they are more than just a beautiful animal. Reintroducing tigers not only benefits Cambodia's forests and wildlife, but the people of Cambodia too. The reintroduction offers a unique eco-tourism opportunity into the landscape. Many tiger habitats in Southeast Asia such as mangroves or dense rainforest are not well suited for tourism, whereas Mondulkiri’s open and accessible forests offer an opportunity for successful tiger tourism. Tigers are also a flagship species and symbolize conservation efforts for all of Cambodia’s endangered species. As well as a symbolic conservation effort, tigers also represent a balanced ecosystem and a healthy forest. The tiger reintroduction therefore symbolizes hope and strengthened conservation for the whole region.
On the 12th – 14th April, the 3rd Asia Ministerial Meeting on Tigers will be held in Delhi. This is a pivotal meeting in the global goal to double wild tigers. The meeting will be inaugurated by the Prime Minister of India and it is a key opportunity for the government officials from all 13 tiger range countries to come together and discuss the goals. Senior officials from both MoE and MAFF will be attending this meeting in Delhi, as well as members from WWF.
“Tigers are an iconic species and part of our natural heritage. To bring tigers back to Cambodia would be the biggest conservation feat of it’s kind and would support the conservation efforts of the whole landscape. We are completely committed to the goals of Tx2 and hope to work closely with the Royal Government of Cambodia over the next 6 years to make this a reality,” Chhith Sam Ath, Country Director of WWF-Cambodia.