Inside Asia Tours: Vietnam, Cambodia & Laos

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Wednesday, 6th April 2016

Could you soon be tiger spotting in Cambodia?

The wildlife of a country can be a major draw for visitors and nothing is more impressive than spotting a big cat in its natural habitat. Tourists could soon be travelling to Cambodia with this aim in mind, after the nation’s government approved a Cambodia Tiger Action Plan (CTAP).

This is the first and most important step in reintroducing the big cats into the country and one that has been backed by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). It has spoken out in support of the project and congratulated the Cambodian government on such a positive move.

CTAP is part of a global goal to double the number of tigers by the year 2022. It has been set out by the country’s own government and has identified the Eastern Plains Landscape of Mondulkiri province as the first place to prioritise the reintroduction of tigers.

This region has historically been a vital habitat for a wide range of creatures and once supported a large population of tigers. Intensive poaching of both the big cats and their prey led to the number of tigers dropping dramatically and the last one was spotted in a camera trap in the area in 2007.

Now, tigers are considered functionally extinct in Cambodia due to the absence of breeding pairs in the country. CTAP will be the first instance of transnational tiger reintroduction that has ever taken place, but will follow the principles set out in successful programs in India.

Approving the CTAP is the product of two years of work that have taken everything from social, economic and cultural benefits into consideration to the consequences of tigers being present in Cambodia once more.

Dr Keo Omaliss, director of the department of wildlife and biodiversity at the Forestry Administration, said: “We are committed to reintroducing the iconic tigers into their historic range of the Eastern Plains Landscape in Cambodia and CTAP is a big step in the right direction for this goal. We appreciate the support of WWF and together hope to see the tigers return to Cambodia."

Reintroducing tigers into Cambodia will help to restore the natural balance in the ecosystem, but also provide important tourism opportunities. The open and accessible forests of Mondulkiri are well suited to tiger tracking and could prove popular with visitors.

On World Tiger Day, National Geographic reported there are only 3,200 tigers left in the wild, highlighting the importance of such conservation efforts. The big cat is widely considered the iconic species for symbolising what could be lost if creatures become extinct.

Related news stories:
4 ways to keep active in Laos (14th January 2016)
A guide to the etiquette of Vietnam (27th May 2015)
Top 5 desserts to try in Vietnam (5th January 2016)
Enrich your stay in Cambodia through charitable ventures! (20th November 2014)
Guide to souvenir shopping in Vietnam (6th October 2014)