An endangered male Indochinese tiger, rescued as a cub from a poacher in 1998, was found dead in Phnom Tamao Wildlife Sanctuary in Takeo province on Wednesday.
Sanctuary director Nhek Ratanapich yesterday said the 21-year-old tiger named Jasper was found dead in an enclosure where it was undergoing treatment for pus in the nose and mouth and also a protruding nose bone.
“Jasper was weak and had not been eating properly for several days,” he said. “It used to eat up to six kilograms of meat and a kilogram of bone daily.”
Mr Ratanapich said that Jasper had been under treatment for three days after a veterinarian suspected that it may have been suffering from bone cancer in the mouth, coupled with old age.
“The veterinary officer discovered pus in the teeth and a bone protrusion from the nose,” he noted. “Jasper had also lived past the average age of a tiger which is 14 years.”
Mr Ratanapich said the tiger’s carcass was sent to the Phnom Tamao museum to be preserved.
He noted that Jasper was rescued from a poacher in 1998 when he was still a cub and was cared for by the Born Free Foundation.
He noted that at the last count, the sanctuary had about 1,500 animals of more than 100 species, many of which have been categorized as endangered or threatened.
Seng Teak, WWF-Cambodia country director, yesterday expressed his sorrow over Jasper’s death, noting that tigers play an important role in maintaining the forest eco-system.
He said tigers are considered to be functionally extinct in Cambodia because of low mating chances in the forest to produce offspring.
Mr Teak also said that the large felines are also endangered because of intensive poaching, loss of habitat and disappearing prey.
He noted that in late September 2017, Prime Minister Hun Sen approved a WWF project to reintroduce the Indochinese tiger in the country and protect forests for them and their natural prey to increase their numbers.
Mr Teak said that the WWF initiative could only be successful if there is strict enforcement to protect them from poachers and also to crack down on logging so that they and potential prey can breed in the forests.