Suwanna Gauntlett requesting permission from Samdech Prime Minister to reintroduce tigers back into the wild, into Cambodia’s natural forest, based on the Government “Cambodia Tiger Action Plan 2015”
Traditional conservation approaches that focus on protected area management, research, education, and livelihood programs have failed to conserve wild tigers across their range. The Global Tiger Initiative assessment has identified that the main cause for the loss of tigers is weak law enforcement on the ground.
The Wildlife Alliance Approach
Wildlife Alliance has engaged in extensive, ongoing efforts to preserve one of Southeast Asia’s largest tiger habitats, the Cardamom Mountain Range. When Wildlife Alliance arrived in the Cardamom Mountains in 2002 to help the Cambodian government organize wildlife protection, the tiger population was already in severe decline. Twenty years of civil war had put huge pressure on tigers by uncontrolled poaching and trafficking.
Bones were crushed for traditional medicine and pelts were sold on the black market from Cambodia to Vietnam and China. Twelve tigers were killed in just a few months preceding the Wildlife Alliance protection program in the Cardamoms. No more signs of tigers could be found after 2007 and wild tigers are now thought to be extinct in the area.
Wildlife Alliance has a history of successfully helping tiger recovery in the Russian Far East, after massive slaughters in the winter of 1993-1994 killed over 90 tigers for pelt smuggling to China. By supporting the Russian Ministry of Environment in establishing a Forestry Administration base in Vladivostok and creating a special anti-poaching ranger force called Operation Tiger Patrols, Wildlife Alliance (then called Global Survival Network) brought back the tiger population from only about 200 individuals remaining in 1994 to an estimated 400 by the year 2000. These numbers were reported by the Hornacker Institute.