Mondulkiri Protected Forest is one of the last great wildernesses in Asia. The rich landscape spans 4,300km² across Cambodia. Often referred to as “the Serengeti of Asia”, Mondulkiri has been identified as the prime location for tiger reintroduction.
A new border crossing with Vietnam however, is putting tiger reintroduction plans in jeopardy. The proposed road would slice through 36km of protected area, 19km of which is in the core zone of the forest. Roads are incredibly detrimental to wildlife because they act as “eco-system barriers”, hindering the movement of species and creating pockets of fragmented habitat.
“The key to ensuring a successful tiger reintroduction is to keep the landscape as intact and unfragmented as possible, which means no border crossing and no road.” - Dr. Tom Gray, Director of Species Conservation for WWF-Greater Mekong
With Mondulkiri being one of the most biodiverse places in South-east Asia, it is not only the tiger reintroduction at stake, but the future of its many current inhabitants. Mondulkiri Protected Forest hosts a vibrant array of species; from dholes and silvered langured monkeys to Siamese crocodiles and green peafowls. It is home to Cambodia’s national bird; the critically endangered Giant Ibis, and the largest population of leopards in Cambodia.
One of the most endangered species in the landscape is an iconic species of wild cattle; the banteng, whose markings give them the appearance of wearing long, white socks. Mondulkiri is also home to Eld’s Deer, a crucial tiger prey species with unique bowed antlers.
“There is simply too much to lose and very little to gain if this road is built. Mondulkiri Protected Forest is without question a world class ecosystem and it should remain exactly what its name says – ‘protected’ for future generations of both people and wildlife.” - Sam Ath Chhith, Country Director WWF-Cambodia
Many of the 23 endangered, or critically endangered, species found in the landscape have already been driven to extinction in other parts of Asia. Mondulkiri Protected Forest provides critical habitat for these species. By supporting rich biodiversity, the landscape provides Cambodia with substantial natural resources, environmental capital and ecosystem services.
With four border check points already in existence in Cambodia, the new road’s advantages are negligible. The proposed infrastructure will not improve access for any of the existing villages and if the project goes ahead, it will cause irreversible damage to Mondulkiri Protected Forest.