The government is working in conjunction with the World Wildlife Fund on a plan to release eight tigers into the wild in Mondulkiri province by 2022.
WWF-Cambodia communication manager Un Chakrey said yesterday that they are working with the ministries of environment, agriculture and tourism, among other organisations.
“Before the project starts, we have to ensure we are ready for everything,” he said.
“That means that we will have proper law enforcement, enough rangers for managing the wild animals in the jungle, and no more illegal hunting or illegal trapping, or illegal logging.”
Mr Chakrey said six of the tigers will be female and two will be male, with hopes that they will reproduce to help buttress the endangered population.
Mr Chakrey added that they planned to release the tigers in the Srepok Wildlife Sanctuary.
“Our long-term plan that we just started studying is that by the year 2022 we will release these eight tigers into the jungle,” he said. “But before that year comes, we have work to ensure that the area is safe and has enough food for them.”
Mr Chakrey said a source country for the tigers has not yet been identified and stressed that illegal traps are his utmost concern.
“Not only the authorities, but also the public have to join together to protect our wild animals,” he said.
According to a joint statement from WWF and Tiger Beer Company issued last month, wild tigers are globally endangered; their numbers have dropped 96 percent in the last century from an estimated 100,000 to as few as 3,890 today.
The illegal tiger trade is one of the main reasons why tigers are disappearing. More than 100 tigers are killed each year and their parts sold for profit through international criminal enterprises.