Cambodia’s eastern plains rank worst of eight locations around the world with a tiger population, according to a report released yesterday by the Wildlife Conservation Society.
The eight habitats were assessed by level of threat and opportunities for recovery of the species and then ranked: green for good chances, yellow for fair prospects and red for a poor outlook.
Cambodia’s Mondolkiri province was the only location that received a red rating.
“Years of war and strife in the region have decimated what was once a thriving wildlife population,” the report stated. Tigers “are likely down to fewer than 10 individuals.”
The report added that a combination of increased available prey and a healthy level of breeding would be key to increasing numbers.
Other areas assessed in the report include Thailand’s Western Forest Complex, which received a green rating and sites in Burma, Malaysia and Laos, which received yellow ratings.
Mark Gately, WCS country director, said illegal deforestation and the poaching of tiger prey are the biggest factors to a high vulnerability for the animals.
To help increase the tiger population in Cambodia, Mr Gately said deforestation and poaching must be stopped. “But it’s a never-ending task,” he added.
“Cambodia has obviously a period of 30 years of civil war that has just calmed down over the last decade so the law enforcement institutions of the protected areas are much newer than neighboring systems,” Mr Gately said. “It takes time to build capacity.”
Omaliss Keo, deputy director of wildlife and conservation at the Agriculture Ministry, agreed that poaching was the main reason for the tigers’ small number.
“The main thing is hunting of both the tigers and their prey,” he said.
Mr Keo said a national tiger action plan is being developed to help solve the problem and that is should be unveiled in the next five or six months. Afterwards, discussions with government officials, experts, conservation NGOs and local populations will be needed, he added.