Tigers Have Been Poached To Extinction In Cambodia

The Indochinese tiger is extinct in Cambodia, it has been announced, and humans are to blame. Poachers targeting both the tigers and the prey they need to survive have driven the tigers from Cambodia's forests, and though conservationists plan to reintroduce them into the region, they face an uphill battle. Conservationists working in the nation made the announcement on Wednesday, saying, "Today, there are no longer any breeding populations of tigers left in Cambodia, and they are therefore considered functionally extinct."

At one time, Cambodia's forests were rife with Indochinese tigers; a combination of issues, including "weak law enforcement" and growing instances of poaching, have driven them to the point of functional extinction. The Cambodian government is targeting the issue now, though, and will work with conservationists to reintroduce tigers into the nation's forests.

The project will require between $20 million and $50 million in funding, and will start slowly — according to a wildlife organization working in the region, conservationists plan to introduce five or six female tigers and two males into a protected forest called Mondulkiri. The region will be optimized as a habitat for the tigers, and will have prepared law enforcement teams in place to keep poachers out.

As well, the Cambodian government is said to be in talks with Malaysia, India, and Thailand about providing some wild tigers for introduction into the region. Sadly, tiger numbers throughout Asia are on a steep decline as poachers target them; most countries, though, have plans in place to greatly increase the number of wild tigers over the next several years.

Many researchers have tasked themselves with developing new technologies that help target poachers and prevent poaching activities altogether. One particularly interesting project involved mapping out so-called "hotspots" of poaching activities to help law enforcement and conservationists target poachers and protect regions that are vital to the global blackmarket trade of ivory and more.

At times, there are rays of hope, though. Earlier this year, for example, researchers discovered that lions believed to be extinct in Sudan aren't — they're just in hiding on the Sudan-Ethiopia border, and became lost to researchers over the years. As far as tigers are concerned, the global population of wild tigers is presently estimated at about 2,151. If countries' conservation efforts work out, though, that number could double by the year 2022.

SOURCE: The Guardian