India to help Cambodia restore tiger population

15 April 2016

The next time you are in the jungles of Cambodia you could end up spotting an Indian tiger. Buoyed by increasing tiger numbers, India is actively considering a request by Cambodia to send a couple of the big cats to help reinforce the tiger population in the country.

"India is willing to help those countries which have lost tiger populations and who want to re-introduce tigers," said environment minister Prakash Javadekar.

There are just over a dozen countries in the world where wild tiger populations can still be found. However, since 2007, no tiger has been sighted in Cambodia, which says that the animal is now extinct in the once war ravaged nation.

"We are speaking with India for two male tigers and a couple of female tigresses along with guidance on tackling poaching and better surveillance," according to Omaliss Keo, director in the department of wildlife and biodiversity, Cambodia, who is currently in India for the tiger conference.

Tiger relocations within India had been largely successful but any transport-national relocation will take some time and require careful planning, according to experts.

"While the idea of tiger reintroduction is most welcome, the preliminary ground work needs to be done on habitat revival for prey bio mass productivity. Also efforts are needed to step up and intensify field protection and build up frontline capacity of guards," said Dr Rajesh Gopal, Secretary General of Global tiger forum and former head of project tiger.

Dr Gopal was one of the handful of experts along with officials from the World Wildlife Fund who had gone to Phnom Penh for a meeting with Cambodian officials to understand a roadmap for the re-introduction of tigers in the country. Experts also say that it may take up to two years before conditions in Cambodia are created for tigers from India to be translocated.

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