Cambodian Prime Minister Endorsed Tiger Reintroduction Plans
“The more tigers exist in Cambodia, the more pride we can have in our country,” said Prime Minister Hun Sen in a speech held on August 22nd, 2017, during the National Forum on Protection and Conservation of Natural Resources, adding that “it is our great opportunity.” and encouraging “the Ministry of Environment to work with conservation NGOs to bring the tiger back to our country.”
The announcement came subsequent to a recent legal designation of increased new protected areas and wildlife corridor connectivity under the Ministry of Environment, leading to a total of 7.43 million hectares — almost half of the country’s land — that are legally protected.
“We are deeply encouraged by the full support of the Samdech Techo Hun Sen for his endorsement of this ambitious plan to bring tigers back to the Eastern Plains Landscape of Cambodia. This is the first and foremost important step to have high political commitment for such project. However, more work needs to be done to realize this plan including securing a large enough area as an inviolate site, increasing boots and effective law enforcement on the ground, improving prey density, and securing the safety for local people” said Mr. Seng Teak, Country Director of WWF-Cambodia.
As one of 13 tiger-range countries, Cambodia plays an important role in TX2 - the global goal to double wild tiger numbers by the year 2022, committed by 13 governments at the St Petersburg Tiger Summit in 2010. TX2 (‘T times two’) is one of the most innovative and ambitious conservation goals ever set that has managed to halt the sharp decline in wild tiger numbers for the first time in conservation history.
The Eastern Plains Landscape, which covers most of northeastern Cambodia, acts as an important habitat for many other endangered species, including the Asian elephant, leopard, dhole, banteng and giant ibis. Protecting these species and restoring tigers in the landscape will offer huge economic potentials for local inhabitants, as the Eastern Plains Landscape may become a popular ecotourism destination.
“The hard work is ahead of us,” said Mr. Seng Teak. “We have to redouble our efforts to make this landscape ready for tigers and involve all stakeholders throughout the process. That means we need to immediately halt all kind of illegal activities including wildlife poaching, wildlife trade and illegal logging, well trained and equipped rangers, thriving prey populations and closely engaged local communities.”