Cambodia deploys wildlife cameras to help restore tiger population

Cambodia plans to import tigers from India under an agreement on biodiversity conservation, sustainable wildlife management, and strategies to restore big tigers and their habitats. - AFP

PHNOM PENH: Cambodia on Saturday (Feb 17) began to install camera traps in the Cardamom Mountains in a bid to help restore tiger population in its jungle, said Khvay Atitya, spokesperson for the Ministry of Environment.

Tigers were declared "functionally extinct" in the South-East Asian country in 2016 by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), as the last big cat was photographed by a camera trap in 2007 in Srepok Wildlife Sanctuary of northeastern Mondulkiri province.

Atitya said the ministry in collaboration with Wildlife Alliance, among others, has designated a 90-hectare protection area inside the Tatai Wildlife Sanctuary in the Cardamom Mountains for the reintroduction of tigers.

"A total of 410 camera traps will be installed at one-kilometre intervals in the designated zone to monitor wildlife, particularly those preyed upon by tigers such as deer and wild boars," he told Xinhua.

The spokesperson added that the cameras will be used for a three-month period covering both the dry and rainy seasons in order to analyse if there are enough diets for tigers, which are planned to be imported from India.

In November 2022, the country signed a memorandum of understanding with India on cooperation in biodiversity conservation, sustainable wildlife management, and strategies to restore big tigers and their habitats.

"Under the agreement, four tigers -- three female and one male -- will be sent from India by the end of this year or early next year," he said.

"The data from the cameras will aid conservationists in devising plans to bolster big tiger population, which may involve measures like breeding additional wildlife or supplying domestic cows or buffaloes," Atitya said.

"Additionally, it will facilitate the study of the density and distribution of prey species crucial for the survival of big tigers," he added.

"And if the project goes smoothly, 12 more tigers will be imported over the next five years."

Situated in the Tatai Wildlife Sanctuary in the southwestern province of Koh Kong, the tiger reintroduction zone will be equipped with metal fences, cages, and ponds for tiger breeding, Atitya said.

Tigers are currently listed as endangered species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List. - Xinhua

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