While tiger numbers are currently known to be very low, the Eastern Plain’s importance for tiger recovery is extremely high – according to tiger experts, perhaps the highest potential landscape in Asia to recover tiger populations.
If protection measures are guaranteed in the long-term, wildlife can recover relatively quickly. Rampant hunting during the last few decades has left most species scattered in small populations across the landscape, or for some, isolated only in one or two areas. For the tiger to recover, one of the most important things it needs is a good source of prey.
The Eastern Plains still has very high forest cover, and the nature of the Dry Forests habitat makes it ideal for large ungulate and other prey species populations such as wild cattle, deer, and pig. An adult tiger needs about 50 medium-sized animals each year to survive, so large populations of prey are needed to supply enough food to ensure the tiger population can recover. This is exactly what the Cambodian government and WWF are focusing on now in the protected areas.
If successful, within 10-20 years we could see tiger densities as high as in some parts of India, the tiger’s stronghold, which would be a major win for conservation and could also provide significant added economic benefits through wildlife tourism.