India has been extremely active in big cat conservation and now is considering an Asian tiger translocation.
According to the Independent the preliminary agreement has been signed and the process is underway. Several hurdles remain, however. Although Cambodia has located what they feel is suitable tiger habitat, India will not translocate the tigers until certain conditions are met.
Those include protection of the animals, true suitability of the habitat and the effectiveness of the program in Cambodia. Cambodia has identified at least 90 acres in the Tatai Wildlife Sanctuary. The number of tigers to be translocated has not been announced. Tigers disappeared from Cambodia about 15 years ago. They are rare in Thailand (about 200 remain) and probably gone from Vietnam and Laos where they were on the verge of extinction. The situation in Myanmar is also grim as about two dozen tigers are thought to remain. The Cambodian wildlife sanctuary covers about 64,000 acres in the southwest of the country.
The Asian tiger translocation effort is a result of the success of Project Tiger, India’s signature conservation effort. That effort began 50 years this April. India now has about 75 percent of the world’s tigers. There are thought to be about 4,000 in the wild. India is active in tiger conservation, transporting tigers around the country and working to balance the needs of humans and tigers
Their efforts have not been without controversy, however as a “tiger-centric” conservation policy has drawn some fire. Skeptics feel that the current model benefits tigers but short changes other species.
India has also launched an ambitious plan to reintroduce cheetahs. The cats disappeared in India about 70 years ago. Project Cheetah reverses the Asian tiger translocation model. Cheetahs came from Namibia to India. Of the 20 introduced, at least 2 have died. India may have overestimated the carrying capacity of the selected area. India may have to change its conservation model. The Independent says a communication breakdown has hurt the program. Authorities estimated that half of the cheethas introduced may die, and some news reports suggest the results are proving that prediction correct.
Cheetahs face an uphill survival battle throughout their range. It is expected that conflict with leopards and tigers will be obstacles to the reintroduction plan.