Why is Cambodia importing Indian tigers?

As strange as it might sound, Cambodia is set to welcome four tigers from India this year, why? As part of a renewed effort to restore the big cat population in the country. The agreement with New Delhi seeks to bring back the once-thriving Indian tigers that roamed Cambodia’s dry forests.

In the past, these majestic tigers faced a sharp decline due to rampant poaching of both the tigers and their prey. The last tiger sighting in Cambodia dates back to 2007, and the species was declared locally extinct in 2016.

According to Khvay Atitya, an environment ministry spokesperson, one male and three female Indian tigers are expected to arrive in Cambodia by the end of 2024. They will be made to first try to adapt in a 90-hectare forest within the Tatai Wildlife Sanctuary before being released into the wild.


To aid in the monitoring and conservation efforts, officials are installing over 400 cameras across the reserve in the Cardamom Mountains. These cameras will help track wildlife, particularly the animals that tigers prey upon like deer and boar, to support their breeding.

If successful, the project plans to import an additional twelve tigers over the next five years. The collaborative conservation between Cambodia and India aims to tackle deforestation and poaching that have heavily impacted tiger populations across Asia.

While Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam have lost their native tiger populations, India has seen progress in preserving its tigers, with a wild population estimate of over 3600 following extensive conservation measures. This joint effort is a hopeful step in the right direction.

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