The last tiger seen on a camera trap in Cambodia was nearly 10 years ago, in a protected forest on the eastern edge of the country. The victims of mass poaching, the tiger population in Cambodia has also been dying off because of the poaching of its prey, wild pigs and deer.
On Wednesday, conservation officials said that Indochinese tigers were “functionally extinct” in the country, adding that there were no “breeding populations” left in the country.
Officials declared the animals extinct while hailing a Cambodian government plan to reintroduce the big cats to some forests in the country. The plan will be modest at first, but aligns with several other Asian countries’ goals to double tiger populations on the continent by 2022.
“We want two male tigers and five to six females tigers for the start,” Keo Omaliss, director of the department of wildlife and biodiversity at the Forestry Administration, told reporters, according to the Guardian. “This is a huge task.”
Officials have estimated that just over 2,100 tigers are still alive across Asia.