Tigers in Cambodia

Cambodia’s wild tiger population is estimated to be no more than 30. But recent recovery of prey populations and forest protection make the country’s Eastern Plains a critically important potential site for restoring endangered wild tiger populations.
 
As recently as 50 years ago, the Dry Forests in Cambodia supported some of the most diverse and abundant communities of large mammals in Asia, which led to the area to be described as ‘one of the great game lands of the world.’

But wild tiger numbers in these forests have decreased as forest habitat has been converted and fragmented, and, most importantly, as tiger prey (the species tigers feed on) have been poached almost to extinction.

A vast area waiting for tigers to bounce back 

The Cambodian Eastern Plains Dry Forests Landscape stretches more than 20,000 km2, of which half is inside protected areas, and is the largest tropical dry forest wilderness in Southeast Asia. These dry forests are similar to some parts of Nepal and India where tiger densities are the highest recorded in the world.

Years of war and hunting in the Eastern Plains Landscape have left much of this landscape nearly empty of wild ungulates (e.g. "hoofed” animals such as deer, wild cattle, and wild pigs).

The world's best hope for tiger population recovery

Mondulkiri Protected Forest and Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary cover 6,000 km2 within the Cambodian Eastern Plains Landscape, and represent one of the world’s best hopes for tiger population recovery given the intact habitat and encouraging signs of increasing tiger prey populations.

East of Angkor, restoring the wilderness

While tiger numbers in Cambodia are currently low, in places where protection efforts have increased there has been a recent and continuing growth in numbers of other carnivores such as leopards, and tiger prey species such as banteng (wild cattle species).

This rapid wildlife recovery is an encouraging signal that the Eastern Plains still hold great promise for restoring wild tiger populations.

Very few opportunities exist in any part of Asia to dramatically increase wildlife populations as there is here in the Eastern Plains Landscape—one of the last true wilderness areas remaining in Southeast Asia.
 / ©: FA / WWF-Cambodia
Tiger photographed by camera-trap inside the dry forest landscape of Mondulkiri.
© FA / WWF-Cambodia

The Lower Mekong Dry Forests

This ecoregion contains the largest remaining tracts of open, tropical dry forests in Southeast Asia. Here, life is in abundance but on the edge.

Find out more
 / ©: WWF
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What is WWF doing for tiger conservation in Cambodia?

WWF has been involved in conservation work in the Eastern Plains since early 2001.

That commitment was increased a few years ago to cover an area spanning more than 6,000 km2 (600,000 hectares).

In this region, WWF is using highly trained scat detection dogs to sniff out tigers. Research and monitoring is a key component of tiger conservation as it tells teams which areas should be protected and what wildlife is present, and how quickly certain species are recovering, particularly in two top priority protected areas, Mondulkiri Protected Forest and Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary, where strict protection measures have been enforced.

» Find out more about WWF’s tiger conservation efforts in the Greater Mekong region