New WWF Chief Says Cambodian Tigers a Priority

The new director-general of the international environmental group WWF, Marco Lambertini, met Tuesday with Environment Minister Say Sam Al to raise concerns over development projects that could have harmful environmental impacts, and one in particular that could derail plans to reintroduce tigers to Cambodia.

Mr. Lambertini said the two men discussed the Don Sahong and Xayaburi hydropower dams, planned to be built near the Cambodian border in Laos, which environmental campaigners say will threaten the Irrawaddy dolphin and Cambodia’s fisheries.

At the top of Mr. Lambertini’s agenda in Cambodia was WWF’s long-held plan to reintroduce tigers in Mondolkiri’s Eastern Plains Landscape, which would effectively be ended if a proposed road is built through the habitat at the behest of Vietnam.

“Monetizing tigers sounds strange, but in India, one tiger is worth $50 million in its lifetime and I have no doubt that their reintroduction could be the single most important step for Cambodia developing a sustainable natural tourism industry,” Mr. Lambertini said.

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