Poachers are killing far more endangered animals in Cambodia than conservationists suspected, keeping up an alarming rate of carnage in the nation’s jungles that, unless slowed, will eliminate such prized species as the Asian elephant and Indochina tiger in a handful of years, a new report states.
The numbers of slayings, deemed “horrific” by one conservationist, are based on first-hand reports from patrols in Koh Kong, Mondolkiri and Preah Vihear provinces, in areas where an anti-poaching group of 33 rangers conducts regular patrols.
“The butchers’ bill is much higher than anybody might have expected,” said Hunter Weiler of the US-based wildlife protection group Cat Action Treasury.
The report covers the period from May 2000 through October 2001. In that time, Koh Kong province has lost 10 tigers, 32 bears, 26 elephants, 12 serow, two guar, one banteng, 41 sambar and one Siamese crocodile.
In the same period, Preah Vihear province lost seven tigers, one leopard, seven bears, 13 guars, 11 banteng, two Eld’s deer and 13 sambar to poachers, while Mondolkiri province saw three tigers, two leopards, eight bears, 13 guar, 14 banteng and 17 sambar taken by poachers.
“This is not sustainable,” said Weiler. The report suggests that there may not be enough surviving tigers and elephants to sustain the species in as few as three to five years unless poachers are slowed. Some 300 wild Asian elephants are thought to remain in Cambodia, far short of the massive herds that left behind evidence of their existence before the outbreak of war in Cambodia 30 years ago.
The statistics are contained in a report that conservationists plan to use for fund-raising purposes.
The study period corresponds with the first 18 months of the Community Based Tiger Conservation Program, a group of 33 hunters turned conservationists who are paid $50 a month through grants from Exxon-Mobil’s Save the Tiger Fund and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.